Hurricane, a note from Pres. Stone

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Posted by Nathan McCleery on September 24, 1998 at 15:43:54:

Pres. Stone sent me this e-mail of interest to all of us:
Well, here we are in the aftermath of the hurricane.  First of all, all the missionaries are safe (except that we have not heard yet from the missionaries in San Juan because communications are still sketchy and the rivers in between have overflowed the bridges, thus cutting the road--but we have every expectation they are fine because the hurricane did not hit San Juan particularly hard, just rain up in the mountains).  One pair of missionaries in the capital (Libertador house) lost their roof and have been moved.
Just about everyone had water in their house, to a greater or lesser extent.  Rain driven by 100 mph winds will find its way through any crack, but it has been more a nuisance than a threat.  We have no reports of windows being shattered, although most missionary apartments have shutters rather than windows.
Santo Domingo is a shambles.  The biggest problem is the tens of thousands of downed trees and telephone (and electricity poles) which have closed hundreds of roads.  The park (Mirador del Sur) just below the mission home has been devastated, with 80% of the trees either uprooted or snapped off higher up.  Power lines are down everywhere and it will take anywhere from a week to 6 weeks for power to be restored to the city.  We have an auxiliary generator in the house, but are currently running it for only about 6-8 hours a day because we cannot be sure when we will get further fuel supplies.  We estimate we have about 100 hours of running time left.
Telehone communications are pretty good, although there is a logjam because of so many people trying to call nationally and internationally.  Communication was severed from the capital to other areas for the first 24 hours after the storm, but has since been restored.  We were finally able to connect with the internet last night.
The following is anecdotal evidence, and may or may not be true.  A shelter collapsed in Cambita killing over 20 people.  The missionaries, however are safe.  We brought all missionaries in Elias Pina and  El Cercado into San Juan, as we did with missionaries in Enriquillo, Neiba, Tamayo and Vicente Noble into Barahona and Padres las Casas into Azua and Ocoa into Bani.  Padres las Casas has been isolated by mudslides and floods and many people killed.  Similarly, the road to Ocoa has been closed due to mudslides.  Tamayo is reported to have been totally under water, as well as a lot of water in Vicente Noble. 
The damage to members' houses appears to fall into the following groupings.  First, there are those who had cinderblock houses with sturdy roofs.  These suffered from water coming in through the windows, but for the most part, no serious damage.  The second is people with cinderblock houses with less than sturdy roofs (tin/zinc etc.)  Many of these lost their roofs (our maid, Angelica was one) and had considerable water damage.  The third is those who had wooden shacks, etc. and in many of these cases they have lost much of what they had.  We are in the process of evaluating these and getting some numbers as to the extent of the damage.
The storm appeared to be most damaging in the East Mission, then the West, and finally the North Mission.  This is because the hurricane slammed into the island on the east, came down the coastline toward Santo Domingo and then veered northward losing some of its punch as it went across the mountains.  Barahona and San Juan apparently escaped much of the wind and rain damage, although the rain up in the mountains has caused severe damage downstream.
Our only personal concern was that we not lose any of our windows, becase of the fierce winds and or flying objects.  We were, I suspect, somewhat protected by the trees and buildings in the immediate vecinity.  There was no feeling of danger, but to see the trees being whipped from side to side, and branches being snapped off certainly made it a journal entry day!  One surprising thing to me was that the wind seemed to come in gusts.  I had expected (out of ignorance, I suppose) that there would be a steady, unrelenting presssure of wind.  But what seemed to happen is that the wind would gust and pause and come again, all in the space of ten or twenty seconds. I expect that what I thought of as pauses was when it dropped from 100 mph to only 60 mph.  The sound was perhaps less than I expected, although there were times in which it shrieked (perhaps this is more due to my encroaching deafness than to any sonic deficiency on the part of the storm).  We had water in many rooms of the house, but the lake which forms in heavy rainstorms outside our house came within a half inch of coming in the house before starting to recede.  A result of your many prayers on our behalf, I expect, and for which we are profoundly grateful.
We lost the shingles over the rec room upstairs (where the ping pong table is) and this exposed the beams, allowing water to come fairly freely into that room.  However, there is a drain in that room (it used to be a terrace) so the water did not go elsewhere into the house. 
All in all an interesting experience.  A minor inconvenience for us, but I am sure a terrifying and and devastating one for many people.  The city will take years to recover from the loss of trees and vegetation.  It's not good to fool with Mother Nature!
Best regards,  
Pres. Stone 

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