Hurricane Update: At Home and Abroad

Written by Plant With Purpose on August 31, 2011 in General

by Aly Lewis

 “Aly, get up! We need to move next door!” my cousin yelled to me in the 5 a.m. darkness of the storm. In mere minutes I was on my way to higher ground, sludging through thigh-high water in pj pants, socks, and my cute new flats while carrying my laptop and everything I could scramble into my backpack lit by the dim glow of my cell phone.

I spent the last week on “vacation” visiting relatives near the Outer Banks of North Carolina. If you’re thinking “Outer banks, that sounds familiar. Where have I heard that recently?” That’s right, the Outer Banks was where Hurricane Irene made landfall early, early Saturday morning.

After a day of boarding up houses, taking down porch swings, relocating porch plants to a card table in the living room, and driving cars and trucks to higher ground, you would have thought I’d sleep like a baby. But as the wind howled outside my window and the power flickered the air conditioning on and off, I couldn’t sleep. In my near dreaming delirium, I half expected waves of floodwater to crash through my windows at any moment. When I finally slept, it was short lived.

Although I had been excited for the adventure, I have to admit I was pretty scared when I took that first dark step into the front yard water, debris and downed tree limbs floating by, the propane tank bobbing in the waves. Once I reached the safe (and higher) haven of my relative’s home next door, there was nothing much left for me to do but dry off and wait.

Wait and hope and pray that the tidewaters would stop their threatening surge. That the howling wind and the waves crashing on the doorstep (ocean waves on the doorstep?!) would recede. That the salty water wouldn’t seep into my cousin’s home, destroying floors and carpets, refrigerators and valuables. 

The hurricane was terrifying enough in a house built up a few feet for storms like this. I was in a sturdy home. We had generators to supply us with power in the days that followed. We had water for drinking and bathing. We had family members who could take us in.

And that was terrifying enough for me. I can’t imagine living in a small shack, tent, or dirt home like in the Dominican Republic or Haiti. With no power, no water, no protection.

Now back at Plant With Purpose, I am thankful to report that, despite winds and flooding, the loss of life in the Dominican Republic as a result of Hurricane Irene has been minimal. Plant With Purpose was able to reach the affected communities and noted that “the farmers’ resolve is unwavering. Despite loss of animals and damage to farms, they are rebuilding their lives.  Communities are mobilizing and taking care of those in need.”

The following is an update from the field on the damages sustained by the communities with whom we work.

San Cristobal

This province, where Plant With Purpose works with a few communities, suffered the most damage as intense rains caused rivers to overflow.

El Aguacero
500 cocoa seedlings and 3,000 seeds in the community tree nursery were
damaged by the rains. Community members also lost 4 cows, 2 pigs, 2 horses
and 1 mule, which are major losses to them.  There is a savings group in the
community as well as Bible Study groups, which are providing support to the

La Joya
Strong winds damaged the electric grid in the community and hasn’t been
repaired yet. Farmers lost 4 hectares of cocoa, which is their primary
source of income.  The flooding swept away avocado trees and 2 hectares of
rice were also damaged.

Loma Verde
Community members lost 3 cows and 3 hectares of cocoa swept away by the
risen waters.  This community has two savings groups and many Bible Study
groups and the local church is mobilizing to start a literacy program using
the Church, Community, and Change methodology with Plant With Purpose.

6 km. of roads were damaged and 4 hectares of cocoa were damaged by the
intense rains, which caused serious mudslides.

4 cows and 1 horse and cocoa plants were swept away by the river.

Thank you again for your prayers and support of our partners in both the Dominican Republic and Haiti. And thank you for the Plant With Purpose staff’s faithful prayers for me and my family in North Carolina!

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