I just wanted to update everyone on how things are here in Kingston and Jamaica in general. Here in Kingston the electricity is still off. After Gilbert in '88 they say it was off for 3 weeks. It's been not quite one week this time but it's pretty annoying! We are one of the lucky few who have a generator though. So we've been running it at nights to cook with, have a few lights, and get some communication out to the rest of the world. Oddly enough, cell service hasn't been interupted as far as I know. And absolutely EVERYONE has a cell phone; from the executive living on the mountain to the beggar on the street washing car windows. It's a very strange phenomenom indeed. Water has been hit or miss but it was like that before the hurricane too. The weather's been back to normal for the past two days as well. Sunny and hot all day with an occasional afternoon pop-up thunderstorm.
Old Harbour (where the church plant is) isn't fairing so well from what we've seen. We went out Tuesday to survey the damage done to some of our church members' houses and the rest of the community. We first couldn't get into town because of so many utility lines down on the road. So we took an alternate route through a community which showed just a little bit of the damage. We finally got to the church, dodging trees, utility poles, and power lines the whole way. The main squatter community by the church was blocked by power lines so we couldn't drive down. So we walked back and witnessed the absolute destruction that had taken place. Here are some of the scenes we found:
This was the scene as we entered town. . .
This was what we saw when we got to the church. . .
This is what's left of Bobette's house. . .
This is the remains of "Pinny's" house. . .
And this is a guy named Oswald standing where his house used to be. . .
As you can see things were not pleasant! People were calling to us from everywhere asking us to help them. "Can I have some zinc to fix my roof?", "Can I have some bags of cement?", "Can I have some money?" There is just such a great need here!! Dennis said that you could spend a million US dollars in just one of these communities and not even scratch the surface of the need! It's so true!!
Well, we are going to at least try to scratch that surface!! We are organizing a relief effort to Old Harbour and other communities that need help. We are teaming up with IDES (International Disaster Emergency Services) to bring a crew back to Jamaica Sept. 19-25 to primarily build homes for some of these people. These are 12x16 wood homes with a tiled concrete slab. Each costs approximately US$4000. We have built several of these in the past and they have withstood hurricanes such as Ivan and now Dean. For immediate need we have purchased 1000 lbs. of rice, 500 lbs. of red beans, and 500 cans of corned beef to be distributed throughout some of these communities.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO HELP. . . you can donate to Herko Family Mission Fund Inc., PO Box 910933, Lexington, KY 40591. This is a 501c3 non-profit organization and all donations will be tax-deductible. Just designate "Dean Relief" on the envelope. I have already talked with someone from the Cininnati Enquirer and they may be running a similar story sometime soon.
Please continue to pray for these people as they are trying to get their lives back together. I thank you for your continued prayers for us while we've been here enduring Dean. I am returning this Friday and I look forward to seeing everyone! God bless!!!