Atlantic Caribbean Union

Hurricane Joaquin Wreaks Havoc in the Southern Bahamas

Hurricane Joaquin Wreaks Havoc in the Southern Bahamas
John Garcia, Communications Department, ATCU

During Thursday, October 1 and Friday, October 2, 2015,hurricane Joaquin wreaked havoc for hours on the southern islands of The Bahamas. Within two days, the storm strengthened from a mere tropical depression to a category four hurricane, while remaining almost in the same geographical position. Some of the islands affected significantly are Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Island, and San Salvador.
As she described her horrific experience of riding through hurricane Joaquin, Mrs. Patronella Barr, wife of Pastor Howard Barr, the resident pastor of the Adventist church district of Crooked Island and Acklins (two of the hardest hit islands), exclaimed, “God is good, God is good!”. While the storm intensified on that Thursday morning, and sounds of raging water, breaking glass, and wood snapping became louder and more frequent, they quickly realized that their home would not be able to withstand the raging storm. Led by her husband, in the midst of the storm, they had to abandon their home and accept the invitation of their neighbors, the Gibsons, whose home at the time was withstanding the strong winds and heavy rain.

Within a short time, all those sheltering in the Gibsons’ home, which included two infants, a toddler, and an elderly lady with an amputated leg, had to keep going higher and higher until they had to resort to the highest place in the single story Crooked Island home, the ceiling.

“My body is aching from sitting for hours in that ceiling,” said Mrs. Barr. “I was praying to God that the water didn’t rise to the ceiling because if we had to break through the roof, I think we would all die.” Patronella was much more concerned about the children, and she cried out to God to have mercy on the children.
After hours in the ceiling, help came when neighbors used a boat in the 5 feet deep water to rescue them. As they got a glimpse of the damage, all they could have done was to give God thanks for spared lives.

Clinton Scavella, the head elder of the Landrail Point Seventh-day Adventist Church, invited a number of community members to live in his home with his family as they awaited relief. On the Friday, Pastor Barr brought everyone together to welcome the Sabbath. They sang songs of praise, read scripture and praised almighty God for His mercy toward them.

On Monday evening, Patronella and a few others were evacuated to the capital city of Nassau by British rescue marines. Grateful for God’s mercy, Mrs. Barr is gathering relief supplies to ship to those remaining on the devastated islands.
In addition to personal donations of cash and kind collected and dispatched, the Adventist church officially gave five Yamaha generators and Five Thousand dollars ($5,000) as an initial contribution towards the relief efforts and will continue to give support as the needs are assessed. Three of the generators were shipped to Crooked Island, Long Island, and San Salvador.

Pastor Leonard Johnson, Pastor Peter Kerr, and Elder Roderick Sands, administrators of the Atlantic Caribbean Union Mission (The Bahamas, Cayman Islands, and Turks and Caicos Islands), contacted persons in the disaster areas throughout the weekend after the hurricane struck. They are working together with Pastor Paul Scavella, president of the South Bahamas Conference, and his administration in giving support and assistance to the Adventist community and anyone else in distress. “We recognize the urgency of the need, and we also want to identify with the government agencies that are providing assistance hence the donation of $5,000.00 towards this end,” Pastor Johnson said.
Pastor Paul Scavella and a team of church administrators travelled to the southern Bahamas on Tuesday, October 6, to assess the situation first hand so as to effectively continue the relief efforts. The South Bahamas Conference is presently engaged in the Good News Gospel Explosion with Evangelist Claudius Morgan, under the big tent in the capital city of Nassau. Each night since the storm, both the evangelist and the administrators of the conference made appeals to the members to give financially and to bring water and non-perishable items for the hurricane relief efforts. The first shipment of relief items were sent to the islands affected on Monday, October 5, 2015.
In his appeal, after returning from visiting Crooked Island, Pastor Paul Scavella reported on the continued relief efforts by SBC. Teams of volunteers, including the Adventist men, Mastertguides, VBA (Volunteer Adventist Bahamas) and others will be mobilized over the coming days and weeks to assist with the repairs of the homes in the affected areas. The Adventist community in the entire Atlantic Caribbean Union region is continuing to collect items and to give financially for the hurricane relief and to bring hope to those residents in the central and south Bahamas.