[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglicans in Bermuda have called for urgent prayer support as the country steels itself for another battering at the hands of Mother Nature.
Some 64,000 inhabitants of the North Atlantic Ocean island have been dealing with the aftermath of Tropical Storm Fay which hit on Sunday morning. Winds of up to 100mph caused flooding from sea swell in coastal areas. They also left many roads impassable because of fallen trees, and left most people without electricity, cellphone coverage or access to the Internet
According to news reports the country’s ability to receive much-needed supplies have been put at risk after shipping containers were blown into the harbor. The only airport lost its roof and was flooded with thousands of gallons of water rendering the customs and immigration departments useless.
Sunday’s storm thankfully caused no fatalities, though there were numerous injuries as windows and doors blew out under the pressure of the wind. However, Bermuda is now facing another, more severe weather system. Tropical Depression Gonzalo* has become a Category 4 hurricane and is predicted to make a direct hit on Bermuda on Friday morning with wind speeds in excess of 130mph.
As the island and its churches prepare for the next onslaught of bad weather, the Archdeacon of Bermuda, The Ven. Andrew Doughty asked the Anglican Communion to pray. “We ask them to pray for safety and security,” he said, “for of our churches – a couple of whom have been hit quite badly. St. James in Sandys Parish lost part of its roof. Also, please pray for the government and emergency teams as the island recovers.”
The Church there has spent the time since Sunday’s storm working hard to ensure the most vulnerable inhabitants had access to water, food and shelter.
One church which was among the first to have power restored was St. Paul’s in Paget Parish. The Priest-in-Charge the Rev. Anthony Pettit said, “We opened our doors to anyone needing a place to prepare food, wash, get water, iron clothes, charge electronics and use the internet. Over three days, the church had a steady stream of folk using our facilities.
“Our motto is A loving family of God, serving our community and this was a very simple way to do just that. Community is what St Paul’s is all about. Although, we’re hoping we’re not practicing for this weekend but if we have to we’ll do this again.”
Bermudians are used to keeping an eye on each and every tropical depression throughout the season, knowing that any of them could become severe. Local people remember the names of each Hurricane which struck the island and what damage it did – Fabian and Emily being the two most common. However, they do not usually come this late in the season – the last time a hurricane hit Bermuda this late was 1851.
Comments made to clergy there demonstrate the fear among locals as Hurricane Gonzalo approaches. Mother-of-three Nicole Simons said, “We did OK in Fay – we lost power but my children were fine. I’m concerned for this next one and just praying that we make out ok. I’m really worried about the people who don’t have a roof – my friend doesn’t have a roof and her upstairs tenants have had to move out and now the whole roof might come off. It’s scary – crazy! I’m going around now just trying to get ready with food and clearing up the yard, buying batteries and whatever”
These tropical storm have even affected Bermudians who are living off-island. The Anglican Church of Bermuda’s current Ordinand, Jamaine Tucker, training at the School of Theology at Sewanee in Tennessee reached out to his family in Bermuda to find out what was going on – “I chatted with my brother. I haven’t heard from my mum since Saturday. I’m quite concerned.”
*Gonzalo is a character in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” which was supposedly inspired by the discovery of Bermuda in 1609 by Sir George Somers and those aboard his ship “The Sea Venture” which foundered on the reefs during a hurricane.