CARRIBBEAN – The Salvation Army across the Caribbean is responding to damage caused by Tropical Storm Tomas. Some countries – including Haiti – have been left relatively unscathed but others are dealing with the aftermath of the worst storm for many years.
In Barbados, the government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, officially wrote to the Divisional Commander, Major Dewhurst Jonas, to express appreciation for The Salvation Army's quick and helpful response. The Army provided hot meals to shelters and assisted individuals with food parcels and other basic necessities.
Major Jonas reports, “The worst storm to hit Barbados since Hurricane Janet in 1955 did so in the early hours of Saturday morning. It came at 70 miles per hour, five miles per hour less than a category one hurricane, but that did not minimize the damage that Tomas inflicted on the island of Barbados and later on in the day in St Lucia.”
The Major toured the north of the island where he witnessed significant damage to homes and businesses. A few Salvation Army properties suffered minor damage, but Major Jonas reports that some Salvationists suffered the total destruction of their homes. At the time of writing most homes were without power or water.
In St Lucia, where 14 lives were lost in the storm, The Army is working closely with NEMO, the government's National Emergency Measures Organization, to provide assistance to those in need.
Captain Jonathan Kellman reports, “There has been widespread damage across the island. Some houses have lost roofs and others have been destroyed. Because of the mountainous nature of the island, many trees have fallen and utility lines are down. Incessant rain for two days has caused water to flow from the mountains and rivers have overflowed their banks.”
“The flood waters have adversely affected the south of the island where many landslides have occurred. The main area affected is Soufriere, the home of the famous volcano and landmark Piton Mountains. Landslides in this area have caused loss of homes and lives. People can only access certain parts of these areas on foot or by boat.”
The Salvation Army will continue providing relief assistance in conjunction with NEMO. So far, Salvation Army teams have offered counseling and the daily feeding program to the homeless in the city of Castries has been extended to provide food to some of the utility workers who were undertaking repairs in the north.
In St Vincent, The Salvation Army is supporting government-organized relief efforts and offering assistance where possible.
The storm passed by Jamaica without causing much damage and fears of further destruction in Haiti proved unfounded, with a Salvationist on Haiti reporting that it is “business as usual.”