As relief groups continue to assist areas hit by natural disasters in recent weeks, NRB member The Rock Radio Network-Calvary Evangelistic Mission (CEM) in Puerto Rico reported that all of its three radio stations are off the air in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria’s landfalls in the Caribbean last week.
And presently, the ministry is uncertain when they’ll be able to broadcast again.
“We would just really appreciate the prayers of our fellow broadcasters from the States that we get back into operating condition,” Janet Luttrell, former President & CEO of CEM, told NRB Today.
Hurricane Maria – the tenth-most intense Atlantic hurricane on record – caused catastrophic damage during its journey across the northeastern Caribbean, just two weeks after Hurricane Irma and Jose passed through.
Maria hit Puerto Rico as a Category 4 hurricane (just shy of a Category 5), causing $45-95 billion in damage. Nearly the entire island is without electricity, and outages are expected to last for months in some areas. Meanwhile, people are scrambling for food, water, fuel, and cash.
“Everybody got hit pretty hard,” reported Luttrell, who told NRB Today that the CEM staff is faring well under the circumstances. “Cell service is very limited, and land lines are all blown apart…. Trees are stripped bare.”
According to reports, Hurricane Maria was the worst hurricane to strike Puerto Rico since 1928. The hurricane also devastated several nearby islands, including Dominica and the U.S. Virgin Islands, which The Rock Radio Network’s flagship radio station, WIVV, covered.
Luttrell – whose parents founded the ministry and radio network – said WIVV in Vieques, Puerto Rico, is key to the Virgin Islands and will be especially needed in the aftermath of Maria, as it has long been a source for Bible teaching since launching as the first full-time Christian radio station in the Caribbean in 1956.
But among the radio network’s three stations, WIVV suffered the greatest damage.
“We lost our tower. It broke into three parts,” Luttrell reported. “WIVV also lost its microwave dish tower. So we lost two towers on Vieques Island.”
And getting a new tower up, she added, is going to be difficult because the station is on a remote island.
“You have to put the tower up the old-fashioned way,” Luttrell said.
Meanwhile, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, from where the network’s WBMJ radio station broadcasts, Luttrell said the transmitter site survived but its generator and studio sustained damage. The ministry is currently awaiting a shipment of generators from the Fellowship of Christian Farmers in Illinois to get the studio up and running.
And in Ponce, Puerto Rico, the staff is in the process of cleaning up the more than 10.5 inches of muddy water that has flooded the studio.
Luttrell is asking for the NRB family to pray for everything to run smoothly.
“The most urgent need is prayer to get the generator out of shipping and into operating condition here in San Juan,” she said. “The second most urgent need is to get the power up on Vieques Island.”
“It’s really challenging,” she added, noting also the high temperatures and breezeless conditions.
In closing, Luttrell asked fellow NRB members to pray for strength for her staff.
“Pray for the Lord to give us the strength and the ability to minister to people in their need when we get back on the air because this is not your typical broadcasting time,” she said.
Meanwhile, a number of NRB member organizations are on the ground bringing physical relief and the hope of the Gospel, including Food For The Poor, Samaritan’s Purse, Somebody Cares America, and World Vision.
“As Dominica and the other Caribbean islands struggle with the aftermath of Hurricanes Maria and Irma, it is our goal and our mission to help the people there to recover as quickly as possible from this tragedy,” said Robin Mahfood, President/CEO of Food For The Poor, in a press release.
To support Hurricane Maria relief efforts, visit the following websites:
Somebody Cares America
By NRB Staff
Published: September 28, 2017