The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) joined forces with the Adventist Church to help families impacted by recent hurricanes Eta and Iota in the cluster of islands of San Andrés, Providencia, and Santa Catalina, Colombia.
The back-to-back destructive storms that slammed the Caribbean islands, located about 480 miles (770 kilometers) northwest of Colombia’s mainland, killed several people and injured others, damaged or destroyed more than 95 percent of the homes, churches, and buildings in the region, and left thousands of people homeless.
ADRA deployed several tons of humanitarian aid from Puerto Rico to provide emergency shelter for the victims and support the reconstruction project in the archipelago. The humanitarian agency coordinated the relief effort with the assistance of the Adventist Church, logistics expert Partnership for Humanity, World Hope International and the Colombian Air Force.
“These storms are among the worst and largest hurricanes to impact these islands, and ADRA is committed to helping families restore their communities. We leveraged available resources in Puerto Rico because it was one of the closest locations to the Caribbean islands,” Mario Oliveira, director for emergency management at ADRA, said. “We are grateful to our partners, the Adventist Church, and the Colombian Air Force for providing personnel and the cargo plane that made it possible to airlift tons of supplies.”
Colombian president Ivan Duque tweeted his appreciation for the humanitarian and logistics operation: “The @AirForceCol arranged an aircraft to collect 28 tons of humanitarian aid sent by Puerto Rico and the Cayman Islands, for our compatriots from #Providencia, which includes items such as tents, water filters, tools. Colombia appreciates your great solidarity,” he wrote in Spanish.
In addition to airlifting ADRA’s donation from Puerto Rico, Colombia’s Military Transport Air Command (CATAM) transported 11 construction experts from the Cayman Islands to assist with the rebuilding operation.
“With the support from ADRA International and their partners, we are sending more than 2,000 tents and tarps so that our Colombian brothers and sisters in Providencia can have shelter. We hope that this will be a blessing for everyone there,” Luis Rivera, president of the Adventist Church in Puerto Rico, said.
ADRA emergency teams have been on the ground in the Colombian islands responding to the current crisis and helping affected communities since the massive hurricanes hit the region in November 2020.
“ADRA mobilized its advanced disaster response team, the GARSA Rescue Operative Group, who arrived in San Andrés on November 18, to rescue survivors and assess the damage. Since that time, we have participated in more than 33 disaster response operations. We came to clear roads, cut down fallen trees, fix roofs, and repair homes,” Jair Florez Guzmán, ADRA’s director for Colombia, said. “We have also provided emotional support and emergency assistance. Please continue to pray for all the people affected by this disaster. ADRA will be here to bring hope and help families rebuild and recover.”
Additionally, ADRA rescue teams and church volunteers delivered more than 1,300 hygiene kits and 550 gas stoves to affected families in San Andres, Providencia, and Santa Catalina. On the mainland, ADRA also prepared food and donated hygiene items to dozens of hurricane survivors in the departments of Antioquia, Bolivar, and Choco.