Multiple Christian disaster relief organizations are making plans on how best to help the multiple provinces that have been devastated by the recent post-tropical storm Fiona on the east coast of Canada.
Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS)
"This is the most significant, powerful hurricane to strike the east coast of Canada in recorded history," says Ross Penner, the Director of Canadian Operations with MDS. "We see the dramatic impacts of it, highlighted in Port aux Basques, Newfoundland. But there is widespread devastation throughout the coast in Nova Scotia, P.E.I., and Newfoundland as well."
Hurricane Fiona hit the maritime provinces over the course of September 23 and 24 before it subsided.
The number one concern for the thousands of people impacted by the winds, rain, and waves is finding shelter and food. The hurricane also knocked out the power for so many.
"Often the bigger the storm, the longer it takes to restore power. Addressing the crisis of their personal security is important at this stage."
With a disaster of this magnitude, most, if not all of the emergency agencies connect to create a clear path forward in how best to help out.
"The first thing we do is coordinate with other agencies that respond to disasters," says Penner. "Being in touch with the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and Samaritan's Purse, to ask what are you doing? What are your plans? We all have our specialty."
Normally, MDS comes in later, after the initial clean-up from a natural disaster, and spends up to a year cleaning up while Samaritan's Purse is often one of the first organizations on the ground helping.
"However, when something is of this scope, then it's all hands on deck. The early response and clean-up, that will be the focus right now."
On September 28, one of MDS's project leaders is flying into Halifax to investigate where the highest priority areas are.
"We have a daily conference call with our team on the ground in P.E.I. because that is where we're focusing our efforts," says Frank King, News Media Relations Manager with Samaritan's Purse. "From what I've been told, the devastation is far more widespread than the media is capable of showing people."
Unfortunately, while Samaritan's Purse staff are currently in P.E.I, because of all the power outages, they haven't been able to set up.
"We're going to end up doing a ton of tree removal because so many trees have come down there. We'll probably be tarping some rooves so rain doesn't get in, and windows too, depending on the need. Also helping with homes that have been flooded. The biggest challenge for us right now is getting power."
Samaritan's Purse often connects with partner churches in the area of disaster, but right now they have no power, which also means no food, for people who live there or volunteers.
"We're hoping in the next day or so we'll have a partner church where we set up a tractor trailer and support vehicles. We usually have a convoy. Our Billy Graham rapid response team chaplains are also going, I believe we'll have four on the ground that is going out early next week."
Anytime Samaritan's Purse helps with disasters and clean-up, they also offer Spiritual Care to those affected mentally and spiritually.
"First and foremost, pray," says King of Samaritan's Purse. "Not just us but pray for the people of Prince Edward Island and all the Atlantic provinces that got slammed. Pray for our teams, pray that many volunteers would come forward and our partner churches. That these would be great opportunities to reach out into their communities with the love of Christ."
In the coming weeks, MDS will be looking for volunteers to give a week at a time, helping clean up fallen trees, reshingle roofs, and anything else that each community needs. Any donation to either organization will go directly to helping people left in the wake of the storm.
"When a disaster like this happens, we think that it's really big," says Penner of MDS. "But this disaster is really personal for the individuals who have experienced this, and quite devastating. Please be in prayer for the people in Atlantic Canada."