Hurricane Maria Leaves Destruction Across the Caribbean, Mission Aviation Fellowship Providing Assistance
Chris Burgess, Mission Aviation Fellowship
Hurricane Maria has ripped apart homes and caused destruction across Dominica, Barbuda, and other islands already reeling from the effects of Hurricane Irma earlier this month. As families in the Caribbean struggle to recover, Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) has staff on the ground and in the air providing assistance.
“MAF is working with Samaritan’s Purse (SP) to survey the needs and bring help to the islands that have been torn apart by hurricanes Maria and Irma,” said John Woodberry, global manager of disaster response for MAF.
“On Wednesday we flew an MAF airplane to Dominica and so much there has been destroyed. About 75 percent of the houses are missing roofs. Dominica has mountains and rivers which caused horrendous flash flooding as Hurricane Maria passed over, so I saw warehouses that were just obliterated,” Woodberry said. “People were pulling things out of the rubble. Everything is chaotic.”
At the airport in Dominica, the team met Roosevelt Skerrit, the prime minister of Dominica, who asked for assistance for his country at this critical time.
Mission Aviation Fellowship (www.maf.org) is a Christian mission and aid organization that uses airplanes and other technologies to reach the most isolated places of the world with God’s love. Disaster response is one of MAF’s areas of expertise. In times of crisis, the organization’s experienced personnel provide air transportation, communication systems, and logistics support so that disaster response teams can effectively aid the suffering.
MAF staff have been providing logistics support at a staging area established by SP in Puerto Rico. A second MAF team had been working out of Sint Maarten with an airplane to provide aerial surveys of hurricane damage from Hurricane Irma and meet other needs. Following Hurricane Maria, that team Wednesday moved its base to Antigua and Thursday completed an aerial survey of damage to Barbuda, and worked on repairing generators in Barbuda.
According to Woodberry, a crew from SP is expected to arrive in Dominica with relief supplies within the next day or so, though much is in flux. SP will provide tarps for shelter, as well as food, water purification units, hygiene kits, and other supplies.
MAF is also planning to deploy a GATR satellite communication system to Dominica to help get communications up and running on the island.
Mission Aviation Fellowship—a global family of organizations—operates a fleet of some 130 airplanes across Africa, Asia, Eurasia, and Latin America. Since 1945, MAF has enabled the work of churches, relief organizations, missionaries, medical teams, development agencies, and others working to share God’s love and make life better for those who live in the most isolated parts of the world. In recent years, MAF has responded to disasters in Haiti following Hurricane Matthew, in Nepal following two deadly earthquakes in 2015, and in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.