Tropical Storm Erika: a blessing in disguise

By September 2, 2015
(Graphic courtesy NOAA)

(Graphic courtesy NOAA)

Haiti (MNN) — Tropical Storm Erika is no joke. When it hit the island of Hispaniola, the Dominican Republic suffered greatly: over 20 people are reported dead, and dozens are still missing. Haiti wasn’t exempt from the storm’s torrential rains, either.

“The reports that we’re getting from Port-au-Prince are basically the trouble areas that had trouble before: the camp cities, the tent cities, the places that are still suffering from the earthquake,” reports Eva DeHart of For Haiti With Love.

“The frequent rains” had collected in these areas, which “created mud and standing water problems.”

And yet, Haiti only “got the outer band,” and considering the damage a storm like Erika can inflict, the destruction is actually pretty minimal.

DeHart recalls the story of one volunteer who landed in Cap Haitien: “When she got off the bus, she was in ankle-deep water; but that went away quickly, and by the next morning they had sunshine, so it started draining off and drying off.”

DeHart revealed that the rains actually helped fill a serious need for For Haiti With Love.

An Empty Reservoir

At For Haiti With Love’s medical clinic in Cap Haitien, water was becoming a problem. Cap Haitien had been unusually dry, and when volunteers heard that Tropical Storm Erika was headed their way, they knew the rain would be a blessing despite the storm.

However, “It didn’t rain in Cap Haitien until a couple of days after Erika had passed,” DeHart explains. “Water was so scarce that until the rains hit, the clinic was “actually buying water for our lower reservoir to keep the clinic going.”

Now, thanks to the storm, “We’ve gotten enough rain now from Erika that the springs are flowing again and we are getting water from the mountain springs. So for Cap Haitien, it’s been a blessing.”

The Crisis

So why is a lack of rain such an issue for Haitians? “You see, during rains, whether it’s heavy rains or light rains, people who rely on cooking outside with charcoal fires can’t cook,” DeHart explains.

This leaves many Haitians with a dilemma: “Try to move those fires into a shelter,” or starve. The problem is: moving the fires indoors means “they’re increasing their exposure to burns.”

On one hand, it gives For Haiti With Love a chance to step in and share the love of God with the patients. “We simply increase our patient load to accommodate those new people who are getting hurt.” DeHart says it’s a great way to show people that God still cares, and that their care “is God’s message to them that when they’re in trouble, we’re there for them and that He does provide the answers.

However, once the patients reach the clinic, the battle’s not over. DeHart says burn patients “are extremely vulnerable to germs.” That means without water, “You pretty much have to close down the clinic because you can’t have sterile conditions without being able to use water.”

Blessing in Disguise

As the clinic receives more and more burn patients, they are thankful for a God who can turn a bad situation into something that furthers His kingdom. Many patients might not have been able to hear the story of the gospel if it weren’t for the burns they received and a clinic well-stocked with water.

And that’s not all; For Haiti With Love is always looking for more ways to meet physical needs out of Christ’s love.

“We are considering starting a cooking program to feed the burn patients because for them, a constant supply of nutrition is vital to the healing processes of those wounds.”

In the meantime, you can contribute to For Haiti With Love right here. Continue to pray for the victims of Tropical Storm Erika, and praise God for His blessings in disguise.

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