Nazarenes respond to Hurricane Fiona in Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic
The Church of the Nazarene is actively responding in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic after Hurricane Fiona caused destruction on both islands in September.
The hurricane, with winds of 140 kilometers per hour (87 mph), caused heavy flooding in southwestern Puerto Rico. Many streets were blocked by falling trees and several neighborhoods were cut off. Many houses were completely underwater.
As a result, thousands of people were evicted and moved to shelters. In addition, a large percentage of the island was without electricity and water for several days, and residents did not have access to gasoline and food stores.
Ivelisse Valentín, a Nazarene pastor, reported that in Toa Baja, 2,000 families lost all their belongings. The church in Puerto Rico mobilized to gather water, clothing, food, and other basic necessities to take to the communities that were most affected by the hurricane, such as Cabo Rojo, where a Church of the Nazarene is located.
They worked with government leaders to get to know the most affected families first-hand, and some churches opened their buildings so that people could wash their clothes.
The church in Aguada saw a great need in a low-income public housing development. Bans on using gas stoves meant people could not cook their food until electricity was restored. So, the church adopted these families, cooking food for hundreds of people for four days until the power service was restored.
In addition to cooking and caring for them, the church also defrayed the cost of groceries.
"Pastor Eddie Pérez and his team have done an excellent job," said Dhariana Balbuena, Mesoamerica regional coordinator of Nazarene Compassionate Ministries (NCM).
Through NCM, 450 gift cards were purchased so that 450 of the most vulnerable families could buy basic items they needed. Also, the South Florida district joined in sending a donation to support the church's response.
In the Dominican Republic also, Hurricane Fiona brought strong winds and rains, particularly in the east and northeast of the country. This caused flooding, trees and downed power lines, resulting in power outages. Many people moved to safer areas after damage to their homes.
Five Nazarene churches were heavily damaged and rendered uninhabitable, but their congregations continue to hold their meetings elsewhere. After assessments to determine the most affected cities, the Church of the Nazarene collected essential items such as clothing, food, water, and personal hygiene necessities.
Through NCM, 500 families received mattresses, sheets, towels, and food. In addition, some of the families also received gas tanks.
Continued prayer is requested as the church continues to mobilize help and work among communities that are affected. To learn more about how you can support the recovery efforts, click here.
--Church of the Nazarene Mesoamerica