ADRA provides relief assistance to Montserrat Volcano survivors

Originally published
Media Contact: Beth Schaefer, News & Information Officer
Phone: (301) 680-6355 Fax: (301) 680-6370
Date: July 11, 1997

MIAMI, FLORIDA, USA The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), along with supporting organizations, have been at the forefront of relief efforts to assist the people of the small Caribbean Island, Montserrat, during its two-year volcano crisis.

Besides ADRA's efforts to help evacuate people from the active volcano area 18 months ago, they are now housing 200 people in an unfinished multi-purpose center and providing them with food, reports Wally Amundson, ADRA's director for the Inter-American Division. ADRA is also providing food to as many of the general public as they can.

On July 2, the newest lava flow reportedly destroyed 200 homes, wiped out an entire village and most of six others, and killed 10 people with 20 more missing and feared dead. Hundreds are now homeless and hundreds of others are crammed into already over-crowded shelters. After the Montserrat government finishes evacuating 1,500 people to neighboring islands, only 6,000 people will remain.

"There has been so much hardship due to the volcano. All commercial activity has ceased, forcing the people to return to rudimentary forms of survival, such as plant-and-eat, but it=12s difficult for them to leave their homes," adds Amundson. "ADRA hopes to reorient the people to skills that are more appropriate for a rural lifestyle, to make them more self-reliant."

Two of the active shelters are Seventh-day Adventist churches and another

is the ADRA center. Although the center is unfinished, it is currently being occupied due to the massive housing shortage in the northern area safe-zone. Construction of the center is being supported by Maranatha Flights International, a group of volunteers from the United States, assisted by the Adventist Community Services Federation of Montserrat.

Many supporters are helping to finish the center in order to better assist those people temporarily living under its roof for protection during the crisis. When completed, the center is expected to house 200 persons per night or provide comfortable longer-term accommodations for about 160 people.

The majority of ADRA contributions, totaling about US$80,000, have been given by the North Caribbean Conference, the Caribbean Union, the Inter-American Division. ADRA Central Office also contributed to initial relief efforts. The North Caribbean Union will also assist in providing food items.

The Vineland Breakfast and Lunch Rotary Clubs of New Jersey, USA, have donated commercial-style appliances and equipment for the kitchen of the shelter. This gift was made possible through the efforts of George Piper, a former president of the Montserrat Rotary Club and the Vineland YMCA.

Jimmy Buffet, recording artist known by the Montserratians for his recorded songs about the island, offered to fly the equipment in one of his planes, but because of the volume of the shipment, it was necessary to send the gift by ocean freight, which was also paid for by the Vineland Rotary Club.

The New Jersey Rotarians are providing up to 200 stackable cots as well as the cutlery to serve about 200 people. Joe Richardson, former District Governor of Rotary District 7030 in the Caribbean, donated $2,500 to the project.