SS eventh-day Adventist leaders in Northwest Nicaragua are still evaluating the damage inflicted by Hurricane Eta, which struck the region as a category-4 storm nearly two weeks ago, destroying homes and causing catastrophic flooding. So far, no loss of life among church members has been reported.
“There are inaccessible communities, and we are not able to communicate with them,” said Pastor Gabriel Gámez, president of the church in Northwest Nicaragua. “The ferry which transports vehicles from one side of the Wawaboom River is not working; it got swept away, and the cables that transport it are broken.”
Dozens of families lost their homes, crops, and animals and have been sheltering in the Adventist school in Puerto Cabezas, said Gámez. Nine churches were damaged, but he said leaders won’t know to what extent until the flood waters recede and the areas can be reached.
“We are thankful that there have only been material damages,” said Pastor Wilfredo Ruiz, president of the church in South Central American, who oversees the church in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.
“Way before the hurricane hit, we were in contact with local church leaders in Northwest Nicaragua to prepare the school to be available just in case,” Ruiz continued.
More than 400 persons are sheltering in the Adventist school where the church has provided assistance. Members from other local churches have been delivering non-perishable food items to the most needy families.
Out of the six fields the South Central American Union oversees, four were affected: two in Nicaragua and two in Costa Rica, said Ruiz. “We are still awaiting additional site reports, and visiting the membership has been made more difficult since the border between the two countries was closed earlier this year because of the pandemic.”
Osmara Risto, from the Loma Linda Adventist Church in Puerto Cabezas, said she’s alive and others with her are alive because of the grace of God. “When the strongest winds were whipping the house, my friend Gloria came to the house with her two children. They were so afraid, but we stayed safe even after the winds took part of my roof,” she said. “Only God’s powerful hand protected us. We were in constant prayer, trusting that God would see us through the storm quickly.”
The church across Nicaragua and the rest of the Central American countries are bracing for Hurricane Iota, a category-5 storm that is expected to make landfall later tonight or early Tuesday, November 17, 2020.
Gabriel Gámez contributed to this report.