Tropical Storm Erika brought torrential downpours to the island of Dominica August 27, creating massive flooding and mudslides. More than 20 people have been declared dead, and more than 50 people are still missing in the Caribbean nation. As many as 20,000 people have been affected in the country whose population is only 70,000, according to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Hundreds of families’ homes were destroyed, and the entire country is facing a shortage of safe water. There is also a shortage of food and milk for babies.
The Church of the Nazarene began responding immediately following the mudslides. One church’s basement was used as a storm shelter. A new Nazarene Compassionate Ministries center in Bataca, a community in the country’s Karibe territory, was able to meet needs by providing food for those in need.
The center, which was recently built by a Work & Witness team from South Salem, Oregon, Church of the Nazarene, had been stocked with dried food goods and medical supplies for disaster situations. When all roads to Bataca were destroyed by the deluge, the NCM center, which had just been finished August 22, became a life-saving resource.
Missionary Amanda Pettit reported, “We have six churches in six areas in Dominica, but they’re all cut off from each other. … The floods wiped out almost every bridge on the island.”
Amanda and Steve Pettit serve together as Nazarene missionaries focused on church development in Dominica and as Work & Witness coordinators for the entire Caribbean Field on the Mesoamerica Region.
The Church of the Nazarene has a total membership of about 700 people within six congregations.
Stores are selling out of everything, and bottled water is extremely scarce.
“We have officially heard from all six of our churches,” Steve Pettit wrote in an update, “and praise the Lord, nobody was lost! However, the reality is that four of our churches have been cut off from any outside help due to dozens of bridges destroyed and roads overtaken by landslides. The churches tell us clean water and food will be the greatest need for them since they have no way of leaving their small communities to buy any.”
The airport in Dominica was badly damaged, so the only way to access the island is by ferry from neighboring Martinique.
This is the runway at the airport. The river was on the other side of the buildings in the background, but it overran its banks and went through these buildings. It even washed a plane out toward the sea.
“The need here is great, and the opportunity for the church to be the church is beyond comprehension,” Steve Pettit said. Carlos Saenz, director of the Mesoamerica Region, said, “Please pray for us as a church, that we can answer [the needs] in the best possible way.”
“Getting through the next few weeks of clean up is only the beginning,” Steve Pettit said.
Pray for church leaders and the Pettit family as they lead the disaster response efforts. Pray for access to food and safe water on the island, which is now accessible only by ferry. Pray for those grieving the loss of loved ones, pray for vulnerable children and families, pray for churches who are working to meet the needs in their communities.
Churches and individuals around the world can support disaster response efforts by giving to the Erika Response Fund. Donations will be used to meet immediate needs, including water, food, and shelter, as well as long-term recovery and rebuilding efforts.
To send donations by mail:
In the U.S., make checks payable to “General Treasurer” and send them to:
Global Treasury Services
Church of the Nazarene
P.O. Box 843116
Kansas City, MO 64184-3116
Be sure to put 125334 in the Memo area.
In Canada, make checks payable to “Church of the Nazarene Canada” and send them to:
Church of the Nazarene Canada
20 Regan Road, Unit 9
Brampton, Ontario L7A 1C3
Be sure to put 125334 in the Memo area.
For any other country, give through your local church or district, designating your gift to the NCM Erika Response fund.
–Nazarene Compassionate Ministries