Samaritan's Purse Bringing Relief to Puerto Rico and Dominica After Maria Wrecks Islands

September 27, 2017 • Caribbean
Dominica was devastated by Hurricane Maria.
Dominica was devastated by Hurricane Maria.

Our airlifts will soon resume and distributions are ongoing.

UPDATE: After Hurricane Maria decimated Dominica and then ravaged Puerto Rico, Samaritan’s Purse has responded by sending a disaster assistance response team (DART) and emergency supplies to each island. Generators have been flown to Puerto Rico to help residents dealing without electricity—a situation that may last for many months to come.

An 18-member DART is on the ground in Puerto Rico. Our first distribution of airlifted emergency supplies began on Sept. 27. Working in partnership with local churches, we distributed heavy-duty shelter plastic, blankets, and hygiene kits to thousands of families.

San Juan will continue to be the logistics hub for our multinational relief response across the Caribbean. A Samaritan’s Purse team has been there for some time coordinating the Hurricane Irma response.

Hurricane Relief

A 10-member DART is on Dominica and will coordinate distribution of heavy-duty shelter plastic and hygiene kits.

On Sept. 18 Hurricane Maria—a Category 5 storm at the time—raked Dominica. Because Samaritan’s Purse has had such a large ministry footprint on multiple Caribbean islands after Irma’s destructive path, we were able to send one of our team members on Wednesday to view the damage. Now DART members are distributing relief supplies to assist the 73,500 beleaguered residents there. Seven nurses are serving in multiple healthcare facilities alongside local medical staff.

Dominica is a mountainous Caribbean island nation with lush tropical rainforests and sprawling plantations, where sugar cane, bananas, and citrus fruits are grown. Maria stripped away vegetation, snapped trees in half, ripped off roofs, and slung debris in every direction. An estimated 75 percent of the homes are now uninhabitable. There is a decreased availability of clean water and food.

Dominica was devastated by category 5 Hurricane Maria.

Dominica was devastated by category 5 Hurricane Maria.

The damage was “mind-boggling,” said Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit. Maria tore the roof off of his home.

Downgraded to a Category 4, Maria next pummeled Puerto Rico. Its 155-mph winds knocked out electricity to the entire island, leaving its 3.4 million people in the dark. It triggered landslides and massive flooding as roads turned into raging debris-laden rivers. “There’s a humanitarian emergency here in Puerto Rico. This is an event without precedent,” Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello said.

We have a team on the island to coordinate a major logistical and operations hub, from which we’ve flown multiple aircraft filled with supplies across the Caribbean. Our team members are safe, and we were able to relocate our planes before Maria hit the island.

At least 30 people have died in Maria’s wake throughout the Caribbean.

Generators provide a critical power source to hard-hit areas.

Generators provide a critical power source to hard-hit areas.

Meanwhile, we continue to distribute relief supplies on the island of St. Martin after Hurricane Irma. So far, we’ve passed out thousands of blankets, hygiene kits, jerry cans, high-energy biscuits, and shelter tarps. We also have installed equipment in different neighborhoods to convert seawater to clean drinking water.

At the same time, we are working on the island of Antigua, where we are reaching out to about 1,600 displaced residents of Barbuda. They were evacuated to Antigua after Hurricane Irma obliterated that island. On Sept. 23, an 11-member DART flew to Barbuda to assist families in debris and home cleanup.

Samaritan’s Purse also worked on the Turks and Caicos Islands, bringing relief to more than 5,000 households after the nation was hit by both hurricanes Irma and Maria.

In addition, Samaritan’s Purse continues to assist homeowners in Texas and Florida, still recovering after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma rampaged through their two states. We are currently working at five sites in Texas and two locations in Florida.

Bahamas destruction-Hurricane Dorian
Hurricane Relief Samaritan's Purse responds to the urgent needs of families devastated by the wind, rain, and storm surge of catastrophic hurricanes. We come alongside hurting people to bring emergency relief and practical help in the Name of Jesus Christ.

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