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.
'Last 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,' John continued to explain.
The people of Dominica were unable to leave the island and are in great need. 'People were pulling things out of the rubble. Everything was 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.
In response Samaritans Purse have been distributing tarps, food, etc. to those in need, and more plane loads of relief supplies will be loaded and delivered in the coming days.
MAF staff have been providing logistics support at a staging area established in Puerto Rico.
A second MAF team had been working out of St Martin 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.
Help for Barbuda
The past few days, the Cessna 206 from MAF Suriname has mostly been flying SP work teams into Barbuda.
Explaining the situation during a visit to the island Franklin Graham said “When the storm came through here on September the 6th it devastated this island, every home basically destroyed. People are off the island right now – they had to go to Antigua. No-one is permitted to spend the night here even. It’s like a bomb went off”.
The work teams have been replacing the roof on a church in Barbuda so that, when the people return, the church can be a gathering point for those in need.
They’ve also worked at removing water from and repairing another church. The SP work teams have set up two reverse osmosis water purification systems in Barbuda, which turn salt water into drinkable water.
In the next few days it is expected that many more tarps and temporary shelters will be distributed in Barbuda as people begin returning and starting to rebuild their homes.