Hurricane season is just getting underway, and new storms are stirring in the Atlantic. Our prayers go out to our ministry partners in Haiti, that there won’t be a repeat of last year’s devastating floods, which destroyed houses and roads, claimed hundreds of lives, and caused a massive humanitarian crisis. Although hurricane season officially started in June, the worst storms typically arrive in late August and can continue into November.
There was some good news earlier this week, when Tropical Storm Ana was downgraded to a tropical depression as it swept harmlessly across Hispaniola (the island Haiti shares with the Dominican Republic). But there’s growing concern about a second storm currently heading toward Bermuda, and we’re waiting to see what happens.
On Wednesday, Hurricane Bill intensified to a Category 4 storm, with winds near 135 mph. Forecasters feared it might grow even stronger as it carved out a west-northwest course that was expected to send rip currents along the U.S. coast. At this point, it’s not known whether the storm will even make landfall. We’re hoping it won’t.
You might recall our urgent appeal last year on behalf of Haitian flood refugees. We did everything we could to transport food and supplies as quickly as possible to areas of the country most affected by the storms. People were stranded with no food or water, and we simply could not wait for the waters to subside.
The reason Haiti is so vulnerable to flooding is that so many trees have been chopped down over the years. More than 98% of the forests are gone, and the topsoil has washed away, leaving nothing but a bare, rocky landscape that doesn’t absorb rainfall. Poor families use the wood for charcoal, but they don’t understand the environmental impact.
Reforestation is just one of many changes needed in Haiti, which has been called the poorest country the Western Hemisphere. We know we can’t solve all their problems in a day, but we do have some fantastic projects that are making a real difference in people’s lives.