September 19, 2008


Victims of hurricanes beyond our borders need our help, too

While some residents of the United States—think the Gulf Coast—may feel that their area of the country is wearing a bull’s-eye for hurricanes this year, just imagine living in Cuba right now.

Or worse, being a resident of Haiti.

We, of course, do not want to minimize the loss of lives and homes, and the billions of dollars of damage done in the U.S. as a result of hurricanes Gustav and Ike in recent weeks, but the people impacted during the 2008 hurricane season thus far extends way beyond our borders.

While our hearts and prayers now go out to all who felt the wrath of Hurricane Ike and its remnants as the storm pushed its way across the U.S. last weekend—yes, even in Indiana on Sept. 14 where it wreaked havoc across much of the state (see related story)—we can’t help but feel terrible for residents of Cuba and Haiti, too.

Cuba is now reeling from two very destructive hurricanes—Gustav and Ike—that rocked the country only 10 days apart.

As a result of Hurricane Ike, hundreds of thousands of Cubans lost their homes and belongings. Besides damaging and destroying homes, the storm flooded farms and devastated small towns, and disrupted communications, electricity, trains, other facilities and the infrastructure.

While Cuban Church officials were working with diocesan and international donors to help the hundreds of thousands of Cubans affected by the storm, Caritas Internationalis, the umbrella organization for 162 national Catholic charity organizations, is among those taking the lead in responding to the devastation in Haiti, which has been battered by four deadly hurricanes since August.

The four hurricanes—Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike—killed hundreds of people and devastated agricultural production, crippling Haiti’s infrastructure and displacing about 9 percent of its population.

Caritas officials are seeking $4.3 million in donations for relief aid to the poorest country in the Americas.

Of course, the majority of headlines in the U.S. in recent days have justifiably focused on Hurricane Ike and the trail of destruction it left in its wake here. As we went to press, at least 40 people had lost their lives in the U.S. and some communities, including several in northern and southern Indiana, were still working to overcome the challenges that resulted from flooding and damaging high winds.

And one could argue that with the extensive damage done by the storm so close to home, it would be easy to forget about our brothers and sisters in Christ in Cuba and Haiti who desperately need our prayers—and resources, too.

While human nature might lead us down that road, our faith as Catholics implores us to remember and help our brothers and sisters in the U.S., Cuba and Haiti.

Through our actions, may we do just that.

—Mike Krokos

(Editor’s note: The archdiocesan Mission Office is accepting donations for victims of the recent hurricanes that hit the U.S., Cuba and Haiti. Checks should be made out to the “Mission Office.” Please note on the memo line which relief effort your contribution is for. Mail donations to: Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Mission Office, 1400 N. Meridian St., P.O. Box 1410, Indianapolis, IN 46206-1400.)

Local site Links: