Tropical Storm Noel Update

11/27/07

Almost one month after Tropical Storm NOEL hit the Dominican Republic, leaving devastation and displacement in its wake, floodwaters have finally rescinded.

Los Robles – The school and upper section of village homes were not damaged, however in the lower section of the village, all the homes were lost along with everyone’s possessions.

Don Bosco – School has restarted and thankfully everything there is very normal. Because they are located on high ground and the terrain is rocky, they did not have the same damage as other communities. Three homes at Don Bosco lost their roofs.

Algodon – We have restarted the school program, however some children have not yet returned due to lack of clothing, shoes and materials. Some families were completely displaced and have moved to nearby villages and others are living in severely cramped quarters with family members. Because Algodon is still cut off from the main road to Barahona, getting help and resources to them is difficult. Thankfully, we have several teachers who are willing to walk each day to work at the school. The government promises to restore the road soon, but at this point this village is somewhat isolated from help from Barahona. The floodwaters rose to the ceiling in our school building causing much loss of items; in addition, many homes in the community were completely devastated. The school lost computers, a VCR/TV combination, school materials; books, etc. These were all washed away or ruined by floodwaters. The clean up was very difficult but it is now completed. Children in Algodon lost nearly everything including clothing, shoes, uniforms, notebooks and other personal items. The community is in desperate need of mattresses and medicines at this time. Most of their household items were ruined by floodwaters. The clean water source at Algodon was contaminated, however, many people are still bathing and consuming this water. Consequently, we are starting to see lots of sick people with stomachaches, fever, skin diseases, and rashes. Also, there is an outbreak of conjunctivitis for which we have no medicines. We distributed food and personal items where we could and a visiting team built fifteen sets of bunkbeds, which were distributed to five families in three villages. However, many more are needed. Because children are sleeping on the ground, we are seeing a rise in illness. Also, we currently have a terrible rat infestation problem and are experiencing some illness due to rat feces in food, water, and living areas.

Altagracia and Pueblo Nuevo – The damage to school materials and community homes was similar to Algodon with much loss in both villages. Again, people are in great need of mattresses and personal items. Many students have not yet returned to school for lack of clothing or shoes. In Altagracia, the dining hall, kitchen, and bathroom structures were not damaged.

Secondary Students – Even though they attend the government-run schools, which were not damaged, these students are currently not attending classes because the schools are being used as refugee housing facilities. The government promises to help reopen the schools as soon as possible. Pray this will be resolved quickly, otherwise we are prepared to make other arrangements for students if they reach a point of possibly losing their entire semester or school year.

COTN Office and Medical Clinic – Minor damage sustained. However, two of our staff members, Iris and Herlenie, completely lost their homes and possessions. They are currently living with other staff members. Iris had to separate from her children, who are now living with an aunt.

Crops – Most of the agricultural crops in the villages were damaged or completely lost. This will create a serious food shortage affecting the entire region as these crops sustained many communities.

Now that a little time has passed since the storm, there is no one helping except COTN. The greatest needs right now are for rebuilding or repairing houses, restoring household and personal items, mattresses, and medicines. We are praying God will provide and motivate people to help. Please pray for us.