Throughout the Caribbean, Hurricane Noel victims receive prayers and support

November 5, 2007

Hurricane Noel, the deadliest storm of the 2007 hurricane season, has prompted prayers and support for the people of the Dominican Republic, Haiti, the Bahamas, and Cuba.

Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) is in communication with the dioceses of Haiti and the Dominican Republic and is preparing to provide emergency support such as food, first aid supplies, and temporary shelter.

After leaving the island of Hispaniola, which includes Haiti and the Dominican Republic, Noel gained strength and reached hurricane status October 29 before emerging over the eastern tip of Cuba and southeastern Bahamas.

Noel is responsible for at least 140 deaths throughout the Caribbean. Heavy rainfall causing flooding and mudslides led to the displacement of more than 80,000 people and isolated small towns and villages in the Dominican Republic and Cuba, ERD reports. Three days of intense rainfall in the Dominican Republic destroyed homes and caused an estimated $30 million in damage to plantain, rice, and cacao plantations.

Hurricane Noel left "chaotic situations" across Haiti last week, according to the Rev. Frantz Cole, director of development for the Diocese of Haiti. "Our priests are not injured. We can't say the same about members of our churches…We are much more present in the countryside where the poor are. They have been hit hard."

In Haiti, ERD will be assisting by providing food, temporary shelter, clothing, and first aid supplies.

The development office, under the direction of Haiti Bishop Jean Zaché Duracin, "is going to distribute food and clothing in five towns that the government can't reach," writes Cole in an email to Episcopal Life. "The priests are being alerted. We want to cover at least 1,000 brothers and sisters. The Church of St. Matthew in Leogane is flooded. [Holy Cross Hospital] is flooded. The rectory in Torbek is flooded."

Parishioners have been calling by cell phone reporting chaotic situations, writes Cole. "They are safe, but they've lost houses, plantations and animals." He lists other destruction: "Ti Trou de Nippes is isolated…St. Etienne in Buteau has seen its roof carried away by the wind. Many missions in the Central Plateau (Thomonde and Ti Riviere) have seen their weak buildings fall apart."

It is still raining in the south, according to Cole and that will mean great difficulty for the families there. "They have already lost their crops and now they are losing their goods as well," he writes. "They will be unable to pay school fees for the church-run schools."

Episcopal Relief and Development "has sent us an emergency fund to help people recover," writes Cole. "We ask for prayers."

The Episcopal Diocese of the Dominican Republic issued an appeal for emergency assistance November 1. Diocesan Bishop Julio Holguín said flood victims are especially in need of food, clothing, bedding, and medicines. More than 60 destroyed bridges and countless washed-out roads isolated cities in the south of the country.

After leaving the Caribbean, the storm hit New England November 3, bringing down trees and knocking out power to 80,000 homes from Massachusetts to Maine.

To help people affected by Hurricane Noel, make a donation to ERD's "Hurricane Relief Fund" online at, or by calling 1-800-334-7626, ext. 5129. Gifts can be mailed to: Episcopal Relief and Development "Emergency Relief Fund" P.O. Box 7058, Merrifield, VA 22116-7058.