Cuba, Haiti need Florida’s help after storms



e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service
      
 

Cuba, Haiti need Florida’s help after storms

Sept. 11, 2008    News media contact:  Tita Parham*    
800-282-8011   
tparham@flumc.org     Orlando {0910}

NOTE: A headshot of Whitaker is available at http://www.flumc.info/photo_gallery2.shtml.

An e-Review Commentary
By Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker**
 

Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with the president of The Methodist Church in Haiti, the Rev. Raphael Dessieux. Raphael is on a brief visit with his brother, the Rev. Luc Dessieux, the pastor of the Bethesda Mission in Tamarac. He had a difficult time departing Haiti because so many flights from the international airport in Port-Au-Prince were delayed as a result of the recent hurricanes. Those who have ever been through that airport will remember how often the electricity goes off. When the air-conditioning is not working, and the airport is crammed with people, it becomes an uncomfortable place to be. Fortunately, Raphael was able to get a flight to Florida.

Hurricane Ike approaches eastern Cuba Sept. 7 as a Category 4 hurricane, with winds near 135 miles per hour. Photo by Jeff Schmaltz, NASA’s MODIS Rapid Response Team. Photo #08-0989. Web photo only.

Raphael shared with me what is happening in his country. Haitians are suffering through a terrible period of one hurricane after another. Haiti has been hit by Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike. It is unusual for Haiti to be struck by so many hurricanes in one season. Moreover, these hurricanes have impacted not just a part of the country, but the whole country. Raphael says it would be like four hurricanes hitting all 50 states in America.

Many people in Haiti have migrated from the country into shantytowns in the cities. Their dwellings are fragile and often have thatch roofs. The rain and the wind from these hurricanes have devastated the dwellings of so many people. There has been a lot of flooding in the country. In one low-lying province, communities have been flooded by both storm surge from the ocean and flash floods coming off the mountains. These rains have made erosion more severe. People in Haiti use charcoal for fuel, and they make the charcoal from the trees on the hillsides. When the rains come, these denuded hillsides are eroded terribly.

We had heard reports before the hurricanes about the food crisis in Haiti. Dealing with the miseries caused by storms has magnified the general crisis the people are facing.

Haiti is a country with little infrastructure and resources. The government is not able to provide for the needs of its people even in good times, and it is certainly not able to respond to a disaster like the present one.

The Entronque de Herradura Methodist Church in Cuba lost its roof while Hurricane Gustav made its way across the island. Cuba church leaders estimate 10 churches lost their roofs and approximately 86,000 homes were damaged or destroyed. Photo courtesy of the Methodist Church in Cuba. Photo #08-0990. Web photo only.

I want to thank Florida Conference churches for considering an offering for Haiti and Cuba. I have also received some photographs and word from Bishop Ricardo Pereira of The Methodist Church in Cuba about the conditions there. It is obvious that this is a very difficult time for the Cuban people.

We in Florida have breathed a sigh of relief because, except for Fay, we have been spared the impact of a major hurricane so far. We understand what a depressing and difficult task it is to deal with the aftermath of a storm. We hope that our gifts will be some contribution to the relief of misery in these two countries.

What Florida United Methodists can do

•  Pray for the people of Haiti and Cuba.
•  Set a date in to take a special offering.
•  Make donations to the Haiti Disaster Response online with the United Methodist Committee on Relief — Hurricanes-Global #3019695/Haiti or by check made payable to Florida Conference Treasurer and designated “Disaster Relief, Methodist Church in Haiti.” Checks should be sent to the Florida Conference Center at 1140 E. McDonald St., Lakeland, FL 33801.
•  Donations for Cuba may be earmarked by writing checks made payable to Florida Conference Treasurer and designated “Disaster Relief, Methodist Church in Cuba.” Those checks should also be sent to the conference center, 1140 E. McDonald St., Lakeland, FL 33801.

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*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Whitaker is bishop of the Florida Conference.




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