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Mass Destruction in Madeira: Help Us Make a Difference!

When disaster strikes close to home, it is our job as a community to stand strong and lend a hand. And although we may not be in the heart of the chaos, we can sympathize with their fears, empathize with the daunting task of rebuilding a community and offer our time and energy to provide any worthwhile support that is deemed useful.

For the past 5 years, Iberia has been our home, our place of refuge and opportunity. We, with little knowledge of its culture and traditions, were welcomed with opened arms. They mended me when I broke both my hand and foot, gave me a job when I decided to work with children, and provided us with ample wine to fuel our current passions.

Now it is our turn to give back.

On Saturday, February 20th, torrential rains swept through the Portuguese island of Madeira, the namesake of the famous Portuguese wine. In one day, the accumulated amount of water exceeded the monthly average rainfall for the region.

The main city of Funchal, and residential towns and villages just south of the city, were the worst effected after strong rains and winds swept through the area causing massive flooding and landslides. Rain poured through the narrow streets leaving a wake of debris and destruction in its path. According to Portuguese media, the last severe storm of its kind struck Madeira over a decade ago with significantly less damage.

Madeira is a small island with a priceless wine heritage, still alive today. Its best wines can be kept and enjoyed hundreds, yes, hundreds of years after they were first made. The weekend’s storms have tragically claimed too many Madeiran lives. And the world’s second most important museum about Christopher Columbus has been destroyed. I do hope that not too many precious stocks of maturing wine have been lost, that might imperil the commercial viability of the few remaining shippers of Madeira wine. And that not too many vineyards have been swept away by the floods,Charles Metcalfe.

The BBC has reported the current death count at 42, with 120 people injured. Search crews are still surveying the area in search of 4 individuals reported as missing.

Miguel Albuquerque, the mayor of Madeira’s capital Funchal, said “What happened in the higher parts of Funchal was Dantesque. People were swept away in their cars, houses were swept away.”

A temporary morgue has been created at the international airport, 300 people have been set up in temporary shelters and approximately 250 people are reported as homeless.

I’ve tried repeatedly to get a hold of the local government in Madeira to get a tap on what the current situation is, but lines have either been busy or disconnected.

However, there is something we can do together. By giving a donation to Caritas, a network of charities that is actively trying to help with relief efforts in Madeira, we’re providing a means for homes to be rebuilt for the homeless, food to be distributed for those in temporary shelters, and general aid to the injured and suffering.

According to Portuguese wine specialist, Sarah Ahmed, “Madeira is a beautiful island and its people among the most hospitable I’ve had the good fortune to meet, so it’s appalling to hear about the deaths and devastation. I’m sure any donations will be very gratefully received.

The International Caritas website does have an option of donating to the relief effort online; but unfortunately, it does not offer the option of directing your money specifically to the Madeira effort as of yet. I do have a few requests into their main office asking that they add this option, but until that option is included, you can donate money directly to the Funchal Caritas office:

Bank – Banif
Account – 1626371377
IBAN – 003800011626371377113

Telefone: +351 291743331
E-mail: caritasfunchal@netmadeira.com
Website: http://www.caritas.pt/funchal/

Thank you for all of your support. We trust the Madeirans will truly appreciate it.


Gabriella Opaz

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