Hurricane Dorian made landfall in the Bahamas as a category 5 hurricane on September 1, 2019. Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) is still monitoring Hurricane Dorian as it affects the Atlantic coast of the U.S. All of us feel great sadness about the damage this hurricane has already caused, the loss of life, destroyed homes and structures, floods and affected vegetation. PDA is currently in communication with one of our partners in the Bahamas, Bahamas Methodist Habitat, as well as U.S. presbyteries in the path of Dorian. As part of PDA’s initial response, a solidarity grant has been coordinated for response efforts in the Bahamas. We have been in communication with several international response organizations, including Church World Service (CWS) and ACT Alliance, as well as National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) and Puerto Rico VOAD. In conversations with ACT Alliance and CWS, we are identifying the best time and best way to travel to the Bahamas as part of a damage assessment team to implement a rapid, timely and effective emergency response to Hurricane Dorian’s impact; identifying needs, local capacities and providing updated information. In the past few days we have also answered the call of many people eager to know how to respond to this emergency.
We understand the genuine desire to help our neighbors. The reality is that right now the situation on the affected islands is critical. Access to the affected islands has been reserved for first responder organizations doing search and rescue, and providing first aid relief. As learned from previous disasters and the shared experience of many relief organizations, the best way to respond to a disaster is through monetary donations. As USAID indicates, “Cash donations are the most efficient form of assistance. Unlike material donations, cash involves no transportation costs, shipping delays, or customs fees. It also enables relief organizations to spend more time providing aid by spending less time managing goods. Cash donations also allow relief supplies to be purchased in markets close to the disaster site, which stimulates the local economy, thereby boosting employment and generating cash flow.”
Let us remember the people of the Bahamas, the first responders and all in the path of the hurricane in prayer:
God of our life, whose presence sustains us in every circumstance, in the aftermath of storm and distress, we welcome the restoring power of your love and compassion.
We open our hearts in sorrow, gratitude, and hope:
that those who have been spared nature’s fury
as well as those whose lives are changed forever by ravages of wind and water
may find solace, sustenance, and strength in the days of recovery and reflection that come.
We are thankful for the generous grace of days of preparation;
for the wise counsel of experts and the generous collaboration of so many communities,
that in the face of the storm kept many out of harm’s way, and lessened the effects of wind and water on others.
We are grateful that dire predictions did not result in the worst case scenario for all,
yet still served to support our best efforts at preparation and immediate relief.
At the same time, we open ourselves to the stories of those for whom the Hurricane was not a near miss:
communities deeply affected, whose livelihood, homes and stability has been destroyed.
We pray in grief, remembering the lives that have been lost.
We lift our voices in sorrow and compassion for families who have lost loved ones, homes, or livelihood.
We ask for sustaining courage for those who are suffering;
wisdom and diligence among agencies and individuals assessing damage and directing relief efforts;
and for generosity to flow as powerfully as rivers and streams,
as we, your people, respond to the deep human needs beginning to emerge in the wake of the storm.
In these days of relief, assessment and response,
open our eyes, our hearts, and our hands to the needs of your children and the movements of your Spirit,
who flows in us like the river whose streams makes glad the city of God,
and the hearts of all who dwell in it, and in You.
In the name of Christ the Healer we pray, Amen.
Prayer written by the Rev. Dr. Laurie Ann Kraus,