Honiara, Solomon Islands: After multiple days of torrential rainfall and some of the worst flooding in recorded history, the rains have finally left the area of the Solomon Islands, but the crisis there is far from over.
Authorities are indicating that at least 21 people have died and around 9,000 are homeless. Those who are homeless are occupying 24 evacuee shelters in and around Honiara.
While these numbers may seem small in comparison to the impact of Super Typhoon Yolanda, or other devastating natural disasters in recent history, it is important to remember the context of this disaster. Depending upon the report, the Solomon Islands is ranked in the lowest 40 nations in the world with regard to economic conditions. The situation there was already fragile and such an incredible disaster places already potentially “at risk” individuals in serious circumstances.
The National Referral Hospital (NRH) is reportedly flooded with patients suffering from symptoms common to areas of poor water sanitation. Cases of diarrhea are rapidly rising. The director of the National Disaster Management Office, Loti Yates, has raised concerns over sanitation at the evacuation centres, which are lacking proper water supply.
“There is a very real risk of an outbreak of disease – including dysentery, malaria, dengue fever and other diseases related to poor sanitation,” Mr Yates said.
Our missionaries in country, George and Nancy Miller, gave the following report on April 10th.
World news is covering the story on the internet, so we will focus on our churches. The only areas we know of where our churches have sustained significant impact are on the Island of Guadalcanal. We have three churches here on Guadalcanal: Zion Church, White River, and Macedonia.
ZION: There has been only one individual lost that we are aware of within the immediate families of the church. Pray for the Zion Church as they are the staging church to facilitate the relief efforts to the other two churches.
MACEDONIA: We praise the Lord that even though they had serious flooding and even the river temporarily diverted to flow through their village, there was no loss of life and no buildings destroyed, other than a small piggery [all the pigs survived]. Some slept in the church house while their house was flooded. There are 12 families, with 63 persons living in this small village but their lives were all spared.
Their water supply was seriously contaminated. Their gardens, including the hardier things like bananas and cassava, have all washed away and it will be 3-months [much longer for many crops] before they can harvest their garden. Their food and much of their income comes from their gardens.
WHITE RIVER: We praise the Lord that there was no loss of life from members or attendees of the White River Church. There were 16 families affected that attend the White River Church. Pastor Osborn, their pastor, is also our district’s missionary president. Two families at White River lost their homes and everything except the clothes they were wearing.
The water supply of the town of Honiara was damaged and the chance of a rise in intestinal diseased from contaminated water is immense.
We certainly want to thank the Zion Church and Nazarene Compassionate Ministries for their quick response.