Board of World Mission offers relief after extraordinary hurricane season

The month of November brought destruction to areas in Nicaragua and Honduras where there are a significant number of Moravian congregations.  This was caused by two Category 4 hurricanes, Eta and Iota, that impacted coastal communities with heavy rain, strong winds, and storm-surge. Inland regions were then affected by heavy flooding along rivers and creeks. Top winds were measured at over 155 mph, and as much as 60 inches of rain fell within two weeks.

In Nicaragua, many of the more than 60,000 people evacuated from their homes are now returning to assess what remains. Small towns such as Haulover and Wawa Bar were destroyed entirely, with scarcely a structure remaining intact. In Haulover, only the Moravian Church steeple and its façade remain standing; all other homes and businesses were destroyed. 

In Honduras, shelters are empty as rivers have now receded and people have returned to their homes. More than 150 homes were destroyed, and more than 800 sustained significant damage.  Roads and bridges were washed out, hampering the delivery of food and supplies.

In Nicaragua and Honduras, many of the farms that line the rivers and tributaries are now covered with two feet of sand and mud.  They lost much of their rice harvest this year, and now is the critical time for planting beans.  As a result, food insecurity will be a factor for months to come.

The Provincial church leaders in Nicaragua and Honduras have communicated with us that the procurement of food for immediate use, seeds for crops lost in the storm, clean water, medicines to combat water-borne diseases, and building materials will remain priorities for the funds that we are now sending.

One of the immediate necessities is to clean out the village wells that supply water to community residents. These wells were contaminated by human and animal waste washed out by the floods. To do this, wells must be pumped out, the walls cleaned with chlorine bleach, allowed to refill and pumped out again to make sure the chemicals are out, and then allowed to fill again for public use. In Nicaragua, BWM relief funds have been used to help purchase a pump and pay workers to do the job.  This pump is currently making its way from village to village to help complete the work. 

Our partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Nicaragua enabled us to accept 80 hygiene kits that included water purification filters.  These were transported from Managua to Puerto Cabezas (Bilwi) through our partnership with Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF).

In Honduras, we have been privileged to partner with Feed the Hungry to distribute meal packs to people in remote villages where crops had been lost, and food delivery had been cut off.  This time Missionary Air Group (MAG) helped to fly the packages of food into villages where they were then distributed to homes.

We want to take this opportunity to thank the many congregations and Moravian Church members that have given so generously to our Moravian Disaster Response Fund. This fund has enabled us to respond almost immediately with money without waiting for donations to come in. To date, the Board of World Mission has dispatched over $130,000 to the three Moravian Provinces in the region to help them procure the needed food, water, seeds, medicines and supplies. 

Because of Covid-19 restrictions, the Board of World Mission does not anticipate sending mission teams to help with construction projects anytime soon. But once those restrictions are lifted, we will be sending out information to recruit skilled volunteers who can assist in a wide variety of ways. 

We ask your continued prayers for all those who were impacted by these two hurricanes. Pray also for the church leaders in Nicaragua and Honduras as they organize the work that needs to be done.

The Rt. Rev. Chris Giesler is director of mission engagement for the Board of World Mission. Learn more at www.moravianmission.org.