June 20, 2023

Adventists Assist Families Affected by Severe Flooding Across Haiti

Young Adventists and ADRA mobilize to help clean and cover basic needs.

Jermy Carmy Félixon and Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division, and Adventist Review
Debris and personal belongings are mixed in with the mud in Léogâne, one of the towns hit the worst by torrential rains on June 2 to 3. Dozens of church members brought buckets, shovels, and cleaning supplies to assist in the clean-up. [Photo: Pascal Alexis]

Seventh-day Adventist leaders are still assessing damage brought on by torrential rains in Haiti earlier in June. Severe flooding, rockslides, and landslides caused by the rain were responsible for 51 deaths, 140 injuries, almost 2,500 homes destroyed, and more than 39,000 homes flooded, according to Civil Protection in Haiti. In addition, 3,500 people were evacuated and dozens are still missing.

The region most affected was the southwest, which includes the capital city of Port-au-Prince, Léogâne, Gressier, Carrefour, and Grand Goave.

“We know of no church members who lost their lives, but we have 1,101 families affected by the aftermath of the torrential rains,” Haitian Union president Pierre Caporal said. Nearly 200 people lost everything, and one pastor in Léogâne only had enough time to take his passport with him, added Caporal.

The flooding also damaged 12 churches and five schools in the northwest region of Haiti, Caporal explained.

Government officials reported that the recent floods were the strongest the country has ever seen, submerging neighborhoods in waist-deep waters and devastating schools and hospitals just two days after hurricane season officially started on June 1. Because transportation is difficult due to washed out roads and the constant threat of gang violence in the country, aid from humanitarian agencies might take longer to be delivered, officials said.

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Haiti has secured funds from ADRA Inter-America to begin an initial assistance of 200 hygiene kits for people affected by the flood in the Carrefour area in the Ouest department, according to Myrlaine Jean Pierre, ADRA Haiti country director. Priorities continue to be distribution of food, hygiene kits, and drinking water, she said.

“The situation remains challenging, and urgent assistance is needed to support the affected communities in their recovery and rebuilding efforts,” Jean Pierre said. There are reports that more than 900 livestock have perished in the communes of Baie-de-Henne and Jean-Rabel. In Ouest, 95 percent of the spring agricultural harvest was washed away; in Fonds-Verrettes, 80 percent of the corn and pea plantations were destroyed; and in Léogâne, 88 percent of the banana plantations were destroyed, she reported.

Armed with brooms, shovels, and cleaning supplies, more than 200 young people from six local Adventist churches from the South Haiti Mission made their way to Léogâne to clear out mud from streets and homes, help wash residents’ clothes, and distribute dozens of hot meals.

Miche Jourdain, one of the dozens of young Adventists participating in the clean-up activities, said that he was happy to lend a helping hand to so many affected by flooding. “We are happy to use the skills that God has given us to help others for nothing in this world ... in the name of Jesus,” he said.

Residents of the communities assisted were deeply touched and expressed their gratitude to the youth group, who were among the first groups to help, district pastor Gelin Pierre Fontus said. The assistance was possible thanks to a partnering organization and special donors who provided cleaning supplies.

“The mission of the Adventist Church is to serve others, and it is important to undertake and participate in these activities within the community to better bear witness of the love of Christ with regard to fulfilling the mission in this world,” Pierre Fontus said.

Church leaders are in the process of delivering assistance to affected church members who lack basic immediate needs like food, water, clothes, and shelter.

The needs, including medical assistance, are still immense, and there are concerns of a cholera outbreak amid the persistent conditions in the aftermath of the floods, civil officials said.

ADRA Haiti is partnering with other international organizations to distribute food, hygiene kits, and mattresses.

The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-American Division news site.