• Pastor Kristina Hansen


Thursday morning we took a ride to the east end of the island.  If someone local asked us where we went, we would have said, "over the bridge" and they would have nodded gravely - the bridge being the delineation between devastation and total devastation. Over the bridge was a new level of sobering.




While out there, we spoke with a couple who had hired a surveyer to delineate their property lines - where their house used to be.  It is the house that they grew up in, next to 7 other homes and behind the restaurant they all ate at. We had to use our imagination. The community would have continued on the other side of the only edifice still standing. The others all agreed to have their totalled houses razed, but one man felt like his could be salvaged. They, and we, were doubtful. 

Further beyond where the other houses would have been was the gorgeous ocean. I walked out to it; the beach is gone. And even on this beautiful sunny day, the wind was powerful. It would have been frightening during the storm.  Thankfully this neighborhood all evacuated.  They lost everything material; a lifetime of memories and daily fixtures that ground our lives.  But they were alive - a reason for them to be thankful. 

The woman expressed frustration with going from agency to agency registering for aid and getting promises,  yet 5 months later, no results.  They said they didn't have many resources,  but they would use what they had and ever so slowly make inroads on their own. Just one example of why a coordinated approach to recovery is paramount.  They also said that going to church each week gave them what they needed to hold onto hope.

I will let the pictures tell the rest of the story. 

Will follow with one final installment regarding our final session of our 3 day conference. 

Blessings on the journey, 

PK

4 views
  • Pastor Kristina Hansen

Our evening meetings have been profound.  3 hour meetings from 6-9 pm; nobody wanted breaks.  We sailed right through with animated and impassioned discussions, hearing powerful witnesses of resilience and hope even though so many have lost their homes. Hosted by St. Paul's Methodist, all 60+ gathered are generously sent home each night with "a light refreshment" of a sandwich, granola bar, fruit, slice of carrot cake, and beverage. Bishop Theophilus Rolle has been our host each night. 


NIGHT 1: Pastor Tom led us in a basic Disaster Response Training called  “In the cycle of a disaster: Readiness, Rescue, Relief, Recovery, Review”- The Bahamas are often caught in the Rescue and Relief cycles because of the annual hurricane seasons. This training was particularly helpful to those gathered. The fatigue being experienced in the Relief phase had been profound because of the catastrophic level of Hurricane Dorian. One major challenge is the massive scope of Recovery needed. Other challenges include the lack of coordination of recovery efforts, which BMH is trying to address, disconnects and animosity toward government agencies, getting resources into the islands... and on and on - with another hurricane season looming just months from now. 

The most pointed question of the night was well into the evening when one woman asked, "Why wasn't a coordinated system of Disaster Response put in place years ago after (other significant) hurricanes?" To which Pastor Stephanie and the rest of us said, "We can't answer that question." I am just so grateful this knowledge and the opportunity it offers is here now.   I say again, there has been such resilience in the room and a desire on behalf of all the churches gathered to provide support to their communities - even as families among them have been particularly effected with substantial to total damage.  But I worry for their fatigue. Recovery will take years. 

NIGHT 2 was appropriately dedicated to Disaster Spiritual and Emotional Care. This part was led by Pastor Wendy with our full team chiming in at intervals with our various aspects of knowledge and experience.


Again the participation was lively and the conundrum as I began to realize is - How do people become the Care Givers when they too are survivors in need of care receiving? This is a bit different than the Compassion fatigue that an unaffected Care Giver outside the disaster zone experiences. 

The ministry of presence is profound with disaster survivors and our conversation called some to further pursue this skill.  Perhaps some of you have? Or will? In my next post, I will share with you our journey out to the heavily devastated area on the far end of Grand Bahama. 

Blessings on the journey,

PK

4 views
  • Pastor Kristina Hansen

Updated: Feb 7, 2020

I am getting a crash course on Hurricane Dorian, and is not a pretty story. 


We started the morning traveling around Freeport with Stephanie, our host.   Stephanie hails from the Western Pennsylvania Conference where our bishop for 12 years was the one and only Thomas Bickerton.  She is currently heading up relief efforts for The Bahama Conference, as the director of Bahama Methodist Habitat (Not the U.S. organization).


Traveling the island is sobering: trees snapped by the high winds, vegetation browned, much dead, because of the water swells which were as high as 3-4 feet. They say never can anyone remember the water coming this far inland.  Houses and businesses were flooded, roofs and siding blew off. Some homes and businesses simply collapsed. 


When Dorian hit at the beginning of September, too many factors colluded to create havoc.   First, it was high tide - the highest - called a king's tide.  Then it hit... and hovered for 2 days, moving only one mile and even changing direction so as to hit the same places twice.   The island that was hit the hardest was Abaco with 20 foot storm swells.  We may go there at some point this week - unknown - as plans change day by day. Perhaps one of the most devastating longer term outcomes was the water supply - breached by ocean water and an oil spill.  We - and everyone - are drinking bottled water. 





So far today we have been working with a delightful group of 3 very talented Bahamian carpenters at New Hope Methodist Church which had to be gutted after the storm.  Wendy and Tom Vencuss, the other pastors of the US continent,  commented on how much had been accomplished since their visit in December. 


Today we have been prepping walls for painting and painting the kitchen and what looks to be a meeting room.  (Don't be too hard a critic; I am giving it my all - novice that I am). This evening, we will offer a Train the Trainer in disaster recovery.  More on that next time.  In  the meantime, another wall is calling for paint!


Blessings on the journey, 

Pastor Kristina


P.S. More photos to follow... later. 

4 views