SEPTEMBER 6: Hurricane Irma, a category 5 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 183 MPH, became one of the most powerful hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic.
This highly destructive hurricane approached the eastern coast of Cuba (in Guantanamo) on Thursday, September 7th. Hurricane Irma battered the entire north coast for 4 days. At 8:00 p.m. on Monday, September 11th, the hurricane finally left Cuban territory leaving a huge amount of devastation in its wake.
- Approximately 2,000,000 persons were evacuated from their homes and sought refuge with their relatives, neighbors, in emergency shelters or in local churches.
- Irma caused considerable environmental, economic, and social damage throughout the country; more specifically, there is inadequate supply of safe water for human consumption; significant loss of coastal dunes, forests, fruit trees, as well as seed granaries, banana and other crops; total or partial destruction of houses, health and educational centers, markets, bridges, and access roads to communities.
- Widespread flooding promoted unsanitary conditions which have resulted in health issues.
- Many communities remain without electricity and telecommunications, due to extensive infrastructural damage to the national network.
- The tourism industry, the main source of income for the Cuban economy, was seriously impacted, due to the destruction of hotel infrastructure.
Information provided by the Cuban Council of Churches
DURING THE WEEK OF OCTOBER 16:
Hurricane relief efforts took place in the areas of Guantanamo, Baracoa, Camaguey, Ciego De Avila, and Villa Clara, Cuba. Allen Speer, Agape’s CEO, worked on the ground with the United Methodist South West District Cuba Coordinator, Dan Christopherson, the Cuban Council of Churches, the National Evangelical Seminary and 11 churches to distribute 19,980 pounds (80,000+ meals) of basic food needs to those affected by Hurricane Irma. In addition to food, laundry and bathing soap was purchased and distributed. We plan to continue relief efforts in the early part of 2018.
AS IRMA THEN TURNED TOWARD FLORIDA, AGAPE MADE PREPARATIONS; including evacuating the aircraft north and securing the hangar to the best of our ability. After learning of the devastation Hurricane Irma brought to our south Florida neighbors, Agape Flights’ Board Chair, Steve Koch, rallied together several Kentucky churches (Phos Community Church in Crestwood, Kentucky, and the Brownsboro and Clifton campuses of Northeast Christian Church in Louisville) to fill the Embraer 110 aircraft with relief supplies for those in need. The Embraer 110 returned to Florida with 2,700 lbs of relief supplies, including 200 lbs of water purification units donated by WaterStep International. Supplies were distributed by several Venice agencies and Next Level Church in Fort Myers. We thank God that our hangar received only minor damage!