Following Hurricane Fiona’s landfall in Puerto Rico on Sept. 18, Southern Baptist churches on the island have begun meeting crisis needs and engaging their communities with the gospel through Send Relief.
“We are in the process of responding all across the island,” said Jonathan Santiago, Send Relief’s ministry center director in Puerto Rico.
Launching response sites
The entire island lost power, which has made feeding those in need a top priority. Send Relief has launched six response sites through local churches across the island, some of them Send Network churches that were recently planted.
“My heroes! Our Send Puerto Rico church planters are at work, meeting needs and changing lives with the gospel,” tweeted Felix Cabrera, director for Send Puerto Rico. “Please continue praying for them.”
Send Relief’s immediate response has been a focus on providing meals and water as long as these needs persist. Each site can produce up to 2,000 meals a day, and local Puerto Rican Southern Baptist volunteers have been driving the response.
Responding to hardest hit areas
Before Fiona made landfall, Send Relief leadership pre-staged equipment and resources to enhance their ability to respond, and on Tuesday morning (Sept. 20) they began delivering food, water and other emergency supplies to the six churches, which are located in the hardest hit areas.
“Puerto Rican Southern Baptists have been eager to serve their neighbors and communities,” said Coy Webb, Send Relief’s crisis response director. “That’s why hundreds of people have trained to respond to crises like Hurricane Fiona in recent years, and now they’re putting themselves into action to meet needs and proclaim the hope of the gospel as they serve.”
Volunteers also began removing debris from people’s yards and started the recovery process. Local churches are receiving calls from people who need help, which may open up opportunities for volunteers from the mainland in the coming weeks.
Hurricane Fiona is the first major hurricane of the 2022 hurricane season and has reportedly killed five people across the various islands of the Caribbean.
After hitting Puerto Rico as a Category 1 storm, Fiona has since migrated further north into the Atlantic where it has become a Category 4 storm. According to the National Hurricane Center, it is slated to make landfall in northeast Canada by this weekend.
Fiona made landfall nearly five years to the day after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico. Send Relief was still actively organizing trips to help homeowners rebuild from the historic 2017 storm when Fiona hit.
Ways to give
To learn more, visit Send Relief’s Hurricane Fiona response page or click here to learn more about opportunities to serve. You also can check with your church, association or state Baptist convention to find out how they are contributing to this relief effort. To contact your state convention for more information, click here.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was written by Brandon Elrod and originally published by the North American Mission Board.