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Sunday, 28 February 2010

Madeira Update

Last Friday, the Revd Neil Dawson, priest-in-charge of Holy Trinity Madeira, wrote with an update on the situation on the island that was devastated by floods a week ago. Fr Neil writes ...

…Though the centre was certainly an awful mess of mud and debris, with assistance of soldiers from the mainland and many volunteers and workers from here, ladies in head scarves and muddy aprons, lines of scouts looking muddy but stoic, with buckets and brushes, most of the mess has been cleared up and the town is getting back to normal. Shops, restaurants and banks are back open - cash machines work! Hopefully schools will open next week. Telephones and power is on in most places. One hears so many stories of sadness and near misses.

There are of course serious pockets of damage especially around the three rivers running down through the city which became such swollen torrents. Some of the roads near them have been badly damaged, a good knowledge of the back allies is useful when getting about. The member of our congregation we couldn't contact is OK.

Work is concentrated in Funchal and Ribiera Brava, a sea side town at the head of a long steep valley which was also badly affected. Apart from the tragic loss of life - it all happened so quickly - the long term problem is going to be rehousing people and replacing jobs and lively hoods. Many people rely on their plots of land on the hill side terracing for vegetables, and I fear many of these will have been washed away. Some of the mountain and coastal villages are in a serious state and were for a time cut off.

Our appeal at the church, which is now our Lent Project, has so far raised on the island, about €600 and more will be collected at the regular concerts, the Saturday Coffee mornings, and at Sunday and week day services. The "Friends of Holy Trinity" have all been informed and we are hoping that there will be collections in many of their churches in England and elsewhere: my old church in Knightsbridge is having a collection on Sunday. And of course there is the generous donation from the Diocese...

...We have already started to distribute aid through "Caritas" who are helping 300 hundred homeless people at the local army base. We have at their request, bought hair brushes, safety pins, vacuum cleaners, deodorants, umbrellas, and basic food, milk, bread etc. We are organizing at the Parish Centre, a collection point to be supervised by two members of the congregation, for any dry goods and tins, clothes.

...The message is to everyone, "don't stop coming," the island needs you and you will receive the usual warm welcome.

We have been invited to come to the Requiem Mass at the Cathedral on Sunday afternoon.

All best wishes (and rainbows) - Neil

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