The Florida-Bahamas Synod supported Hurricane Matthew restoration efforts in the Bahamas with a contribution of $11,000, which is being managed and distributed through the leadership of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Freeport, Bahamas and in partnership with the Broward-Bahamas Conference. Below is a summary of the use of those funds, sent by Ms. Gena Granger, council treasurer of Our Savior Lutheran Church.
Two homes, approximately three blocks from the church, had significant roof damage to both houses. The first had a section of the roof blown away covering a back bedroom. This family is a recipient of our feeding program. When we originally surveyed the damage, the roof was open to the sky. They had been given 8 sheets of plywood, and the church–through the Synod’s special gift–was able to supply the remaining materials and labor to close the roof. The second had significant roof leaks in the northern section of the house. With materials and labor supplied by the funds of the Florida-Bahamas Synod, roof leaks stopped and the roof was made water-tight. The occupants are a youth member of the church and her guardian.
Two church members were given $500 each towards the roof repairs on their respective houses, who greatly appreciated the assistance. A third church member who is a mother of three young children was able to repair roof damage, and is grateful for the assistance of the Florida-Bahamas Synod in facilitating these repairs. Her house is approximately 10 miles to the east of the church, hence the lesser damage.
The Roman Catholic Church in West Grand Bahama extended their daily school children feeding program to cover all residents of West End after the storm passage. With some of the Florida-Bahamas Synod funds, several feedings were provided in the early restoration days.
Florida-Bahamas Synod funds will reach out to two churches – Christ the King Anglican and St. Paul’s Methodist Church with $1,000 gifts each toward their major roof repairs. The Anglican Church Social Hall, which holds community and government public meetings on a regular basis, was significantly damaged. The main building of the Methodist Church, only half a mile away from our building, received significant damage. This church partners with us during Lent and other special events, and for two years, retired Pr. Dr. Emmett Weir of this church was an interim pastor at Our Saviour.
The third institution to be assisted with the funding of the Florida-Bahamas Synod is the Youth Centre, our next door neighbor. Directed by Kevin Tomlinson, the Centre provides after school-care for many of the at-risk youth in the community. Just recently our church was the alternate venue for an evening program due to rain and roof leaks that occurred prior to the program start.
We received a donation from one of our members to purchase 60 blankets; with that donation and funds of the Florida-Bahamas Synod, we will distribute to the Pinder’s Point area, another area hard hit by Hurricane Matthew. Members of the church, youth and others, will make pillows from plastic garbage bags (a skill we learned at last year’s Synod Assembly) to go along with the blankets. Together with the Catholic Church, we are going to review Pinder’s Point area for needed roofing repairs for low income families.
There is still more work to be done in restoring and repairing all the damage done by Hurricane Matthew. But we are grateful for God’s faithfulness, shown through the support of partners both local and long-distance, and for the ongoing support we receive from so many. While the storm was devastating, it cannot ultimately destroy the work God is doing in and through God’s people.
On a final note of interest, the government has extended the Exigency Order (waiver of duty/VAT) on hurricane restoration supplies for another 90 days, to July 4, 2017. This allows purchase/importation of materials for repairs duty free and VAT free – quite a savings (10-35% of US cost).
We continue to look for appropriate ways to assist our community. Thank you for your prayers, your support, and your ongoing partnership.