WEST INDIES: ERD responds to 'surprise' Tropical Storm Arthur in Belize

June 5, 2008

Episcopal Relief and Development is responding to the devastation caused by Tropical Storm Arthur in Belize. The storm formed suddenly in the Caribbean and swept across Central America on June 1-2, following on the heels of Tropical Storm Alma and catching Belize's 300,000 residents by surprise.

Heavy rains and strong winds have caused flash flooding that claimed at least four lives in Belize, although officials have not confirmed the death toll. Thousands have been driven from their homes by rising waters. Roads and bridges have been severely damaged, leaving parts of the country inaccessible. The storm also wiped out papaya plantations, shrimp farms, and the rice crops, devastating the nation's economy and food supply.

ERD has been in contact with its partner, the Anglican Diocese of Belize, to determine immediate needs in the affected areas. ERD has a long-standing relationship with the diocese, and has been working on programs to promote health and create economic opportunities over the past several years. After Belize was hit two years in a row by devastating hurricanes in 2000 and 2001, ERD partnered with the diocese to rebuild three of the hardest hit communities in the country -- Caye Caulker, Monkey River, and Placencia -- with assistance from volunteer teams from Episcopal churches around the United States.

ERD will provide support to purchase much-needed food, water and materials for housing repair.

To help people affected by Tropical Storm Arthur in Belize, please make a donation to ERD's "Emergency Relief Fund" online here, 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.