Jamaican churches hit hard by Hurricane Sandy


Portland, Jamaica

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in the northeastern parishes of St. Mary and Portland was dealt a hard blow during the passing of Hurricane Sandy on Wednesday, October 24.

Every area of our socio economic life has been affected, however, we thank God that there is no report of death or injury among our members or workers.

Members of the Boston Adventist church in Portland worshipped under a Gynep tree on Saturday, October 26. Their place of worship was demolished by Hurricane Sandy during its passage over Jamaica on October 24. [Photo courtesy: Danielo Daniels]

Preliminary estimates and assessment has revealed that between 65-75 percent of church properties have been partly or severely damaged by the category one hurricane.

“We have felt the wrath of Hurricane Sandy in a most telling manner,” said Pastor Arlington Woodburn, president of the church in North Jamaica. “Every area of our socio economic life has been affected, however, we thank God that there is no report of death or injury among our members or workers.”

The Boston Adventist church in Portland, which had a metal structure supported by tarpaulin and zinc roof was demolished. Service for some of its sixty-two members took place on Saturday under a large Gynep tree.

“The members are not sad,” exclaimed Damion Clarke, pastor of the Boston Church. “They are rejoicing in the Lord and believe that God has a special plan for them, having allowed this to happen. From this disappointment they are looking forward to a better church building on a land of their own as the one that the church is presently on is leased.”

According to Clarke, the plan is to put the structure back together in the coming weeks to ensure there is roof overhead.

Others churches and members’ homes throughout the region suffered structural or partial roof damages. The church’s campsite “Camp Don” in Robins Bay, St Mary suffered up to 80 percent damage of its structure, according to church leaders.

Church members sit beside the fallen zinc roof of their temple days after Hurricane Sandy hit.

Despite the setback, the church in the northeast region is organising its humanitarian efforts for those in need.

“Though we have been hard hit, the church is organising assistance to persons in need of food, clothing and repairs to roofs through the community services department, service groups and the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Jamaica,” said Clarke.

Meanwhile, Pastor Woodburn is appealing for assistance with generators for the administrative office of the Conference and the campsite.

The parish of Portland where the northeast region has approximately 45 percent of its members has been the hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy, which has left with a trail of destruction, mainly across in the northeastern parishes of Jamaica. Many parts of that section of the Island are still without electricity and some roads are still impassible due to damages or toppled utility poles and trees. The roofs of some homes, churches and businesses were damaged. The farming communities of that region have also been affected.

Church leaders are still assessing damages for insurance purposes, added Woodburn. The Northeast Jamaica region has approximately 28,000 members worshiping in 103 congregations in St. Mary and Portland.