ADRA Helps Coordinate Relief to Affected Islands in North Caribbean

ADRA member volunteers in Tortola sort out food and relief supplies to distribute to those displaced by recent hurricanes. Image Courtesy of North Caribbean Conference

October 3, 2017 | St. Croix, Virgin Islands | NCC Staff / IAD Staff

The local Seventh-day Adventist Church in St. Maarten and Tortola, in collaboration with the Adventist Development Relief Agency (ADRA), is helping to provide relief to hundreds of displaced and distressed individuals from Hurricane Irma’s destruction last month.

ADRA has already provided over 1,000 hot meals over three days in St. Maarten and food baskets for over 500 families in Tortola, church leaders said.

ADRA International staff has been assisting in the emergency response in the island of Tortola. Courtesy of North Caribbean Conference

In St. Maarten

“Hurricane Irma destroyed and interrupted the lives of many people,” said Vashni Cuvalay, ADRA coordinator in St. Maarten. “The people need help and we are more than happy to provide that kind of service to the community.”

Cuvalay and Pastor Kumal Smith, a local pastor in St. Maarten, have been helping to coordinate volunteers in the distribution of the hot meals.

“We are so pleased that our church has moved into action,” said Smith, “and I am happy to see the volunteers work to make a difference.”

Wilmoth James, ADRA Coordinator of the conference, indicated that ADRA’s response was immediate and effective. “Two days after Hurricane Irma, ADRA Canada delivered 1,500 hygiene kits to St. Maarten.

In addition, ADRA has formed a partnership in the local territories to provide sustained assistance to those in need. “In the British Virgin Islands, we are partnering with the government to provide assistance for the country’s school feeding program,” said Wilmoth.

A girl in Tortola picks up a warm meal thanks to ADRA and church member volunteers who have been helping communities after the Hurricane Irma. Image Courtesy of North Caribbean Conference

The challenge continues to be getting relief supplies to the islands, indicated Wilmoth.

“With the enormity of the devastation, local governments have closed their borders, and access is limited,” said James. However, he said, “things are opening up and before long all territories in the conference including Anguilla will benefit from the humanitarian arm of the church.”

Church members affected

Preliminary reports on St. Maarten indicate that 115 church families lost their homes and 99 of them lost their roofs. Those figures came after a survey was done of 353 families.

Local churches and schools across the two islands were destroyed by the category 5 storm. Local church leaders were looking for opportunities to help.

Local pastors mobilized volunteers on the two islands and partnered with two ADRA International representatives who flew in to help coordinate the activities in order to facilitate and activate its response. “We want to continue providing food,” said Pastor Kumal Smith, who has been using his vehicle to provide meals to the community for the past three days.


“We were hard hit, and to compound the problem, we had flooding in the territory,” said Pastor Howard Simon. Simon said that the island is celebrating the work of ADRA.

“Our members were hurting and longing for assistance and ADRA was able to coordinate the distribution of hampers to 500 families,” Simon said.

Hurricane Maria damaged St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. Image by Al Powell/IAD

North Caribbean Conference

President of the North Caribbean Conference Pastor Desmond James applauded the efforts of leaders and all the church member volunteers.

“We know many more are in need and we are working hard to help them, but with God’s help we will get there,” said James. “We see light at the end of the tunnel.”

The greatest challenge at hand is rebuilding the churches’ infrastructure and engaging many members who are distressed, said James. “We want our churches to open up so we can minister to our people and let them know we care,” he said.

Four Adventist schools in the conference were damaged, and all churches on the affected islands sustained structural and water damage, reported Pastor James. “Many members’ homes, businesses and properties were either damaged or destroyed, so we will work to collaborate our efforts as we seek to move forward,” he said.

Pastor James reassured the membership that the North Caribbean Conference will continue to provide assistance to those who are in need with the help of partners in the Caribbean Union territory and the wider church. “Our local coordinators will continue assessing the needs so that we have a structured approach to the needs before us.

Church members prepare hot meals at the Peters Rest Adventist Church in St. Croix this week. Image by Royston Philbert/NCC

The office of the North Caribbean Conference, headquartered in St. Croix, has been operating on a generator since Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit last month. The storms damaged buildings, trees, and knocked out power and cellphone service. The conference’s solar panel farm had water and wind damage, church leaders reported. Authorities have said that power may be restored by December.

The church in St. Croix began feeding hot meal at the Central SDA Church this week. Leaders plan to also provide hot meals at Sunny Acres SDA Church to feed the Spanish community and more in Peters Rest SDA Church to serve the Christiansted areas.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in North Caribbean Conference oversees the work in Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands–including Anegada, Jost Van Dyke, Tortola, and Virgin Gorda, United States Virgin Islands–St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas, and the islands of Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten.

There are more than 15,500 Seventh-day Adventists worshiping in 35 churches and congregations in the North Caribbean territory.

For more information on how you can help church members across the Caribbean Union, the North Caribbean Conference or any other territory affected by the recent natural disasters, CLICK HERE

To assist communities affected by the natural disasters across Inter-America, email for additional information.

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Categories From the Field, RSS English | Tags: | Posted on October 3, 2017