Caribbean Response Further Expands; Food Delivered to St. Martin

September 15, 2017 • Caribbean

In the wake of Hurricane Irma, Samaritan's Purse is bringing relief to people on hard-hit islands.

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UPDATE: Many thousands of people throughout the Caribbean remain in desperate need in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. In addition to our ongoing efforts in St. Martin and our planned ministry in Antigua, we are broadening our work to include residents of the Turks and Caicos.

In partnership with local churches, we plan to begin distributing emergency relief supplies on Tuesday to about 1,000 households on the Turks and Caicos Islands. These supplies—carried on our DC-3 aircraft—include blankets, shelter tarping, hygiene kits, and household water filtration units. One unique item to be included will be plastic shoes at the request of local residents. We will also provide tarping to churches and government buildings severely damaged by the monstrous storm.


On Sept. 13, Samaritan’s Purse flew once again to the beleaguered island of St. Martin and this time our DC-8 cargo plane carried 30 tons of high-energy biscuits to help residents faced with dwindling food supplies.

The World Food Program donated these biscuits to us for our Hurricane Irma relief effort on St. Martin, and our DC-8 flew to Haiti to pick them up.

Samaritan’s Purse is installing equipment in St. Martin to convert seawater into clean drinking water, which has become another urgent need. So far, we have installed two systems and have plans for more.

Samaritan's Purse blue shelter plastic is being distributed in St. Martin.

Samaritan’s Purse blue shelter plastic is being distributed in St. Martin.

In addition, we’re looking to distribute relief supplies on the island of Antigua, also decimated by Irma on its deadly path through the Caribbean. Currently, the entire population of the devastated island of Barbuda has been evacuated to Antigua. So, this is a unique situation to assist the population of both islands in one place.

This growth in our Caribbean response is possible because we’ve set up an operational hub on Puerto Rico, from where we can fly a DC-3 plane to smaller islands with airport access. We have close to 30 personnel on the ground across several islands.

Hurricane Relief Distributions Underway on St. Martin

We continue ramping up our distributions to people on St. Martin. Disaster response specialists are fanning out across different neighborhoods to bring food, water, and emergency supplies to thousands of families. Over the past few days, we have assisted in distributing food, water, and relief supplies to about 1,100 households. At the same time, working with international/government agencies and throughlocal churches, we have begun distributing these items among the elderly, the young, and the disabled. We are also working with these churches to distribute relief supplies at their respective sites. The people have expressed their gratitude to our staff for their compassion and hard work in the Name of Jesus.

Pastor Lapaix and his family are helping their neighbors recover.

Pastor Lapaix and his family are helping their neighbors recover.

On Monday, we partnered with two local churches and an orphanage to help meet physical needs and to show the love of God to those affected by Hurricane Irma’s destructive rampage.

“The church doesn’t just have the responsibility of looking after the church in a time of crisis, but of looking after the whole community,” said Dones Lapaix, one of the local pastors we’ve worked with on St. Martin.

“A big problem is that everyone is homeless unexpectedly,” he said. “As soon as Samaritan’s Purse arrived with these items it was very helpful. Many homes in our community have no roofs, only walls.”

Pastor Lapaix’s wife Elna said that during the hurricane she wasn’t scared because she prayed the entire time. Her neighbors could hear her praying out loud for their safety and protection.

“I didn’t concentrate on the catastrophe, but on Jesus,” she said. “I prayed the whole time, and I was not afraid.”

Families in St. Martin are glad to receive food and relief supplies from Samaritan's Purse.

Families in St. Martin are glad to receive food and relief supplies from Samaritan’s Purse.

The devastation on St. Martin was extensive. Our team members report that houses upon houses were badly damaged. Roofs were blown off. Irma’s Category-5 winds lifted cars and flung them into trees. Overwhelming mounds of rubble litter each street, though bulldozers are beginning to clear them out.

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Hurricane Relief Samaritan's Purse
Hurricane Relief Samaritan's Purse responds to the urgent needs of families devastated by the wind, rain, and storm surge of catastrophic hurricanes. Whether in the United States or abroad, we come alongside hurting people to bring emergency relief and practical help in the Name of Jesus Christ.

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