Tropical Storm Isaac, the storm which has brought such strong recollections of Hurricane Katrina to so many people, has provided a stern test of the early warning systems being supported by the Bishop of St Alban?s Harvest Appeal. Where communities have had these means in place they have fared much better than places without them.
So say Christian Aid, the Harvest Appeal partner working with community organisations on the ground in the Dominican Republic, where Isaac has already claimed five lives, and left 30,000 people displaced. The small rural community of La Luisa Prieta in the Monte Plata region of the Dominican Republic is part of the National Emergency Network which provides early warning of impending flooding and training for how to cope with disasters when they come. This is essential as flooding becomes more frequent in a changing climate, especially for these communities for whom crop failure can be disastrous.
The arrival of Tropical Storm Isaac on 24th August triggered a red alert as heavy rains fell, bringing flooding to many regions. In Luisa Prieta, the community were prepared, and although they have completely lost 40 parcels of crops: cassava, bananas, sweet potatoes, bananas, yams, maize, pigeon peas, passion fruit and rice, they will cope. Many other communities in the Dominican Republic could do with these simple means which can equip villages to cope with ever more frequent natural disasters. Without the help being given by Christian Aid, supported by the Bishop?s Harvest Appeal, it could be far worse and help is urgently needed. This is the hurricane season and where Isaac has gone, Kirk, building up strength in the Atlantic, may soon follow.
The Bishop of St Alban’s, the Rt Revd Dr Alan Smith commented: “The damage done to lives and livelihoods in the Dominican Republic is tragic, but has been so much less serious than it might have been thanks to Christian Aid and their partners. What they are doing shows us that there is the means to make a huge difference to people?s lives if we will play our part when called upon. It is almost more sad that not every community in the Dominican Republic has access to the early warnings and advice. Prevention is much less devastating and far more cost-effective than cure: so please pray and give to this work.”