By Michael Ireland, Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net)
COCONUT CREEK, FL (ANS, Oct. 14, 2016) — Ten days after Hurricane Matthew slammed the southwest part of Haiti, international Christian relief organization Food For The Poor has continued to rush lifesaving relief supplies to the country on a daily basis. Based on damage assessments, the coming weeks and months will bring a dangerous food shortage.
In a media update monitored by ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net), the relief agency says the storm devastated homes and crops along the southwest coast, damaged schools, swept away livestock and cut off transportation.
The news update states: “Those who survived the storm have faced great challenges, including going days without food. Cholera, diarrhea and flu-like symptoms are spreading as desperate people share close quarters with family and friends amid poor sanitary conditions which facilitates the transmission of disease.”
Even as aid continues to pour in, Robin Mahfood, President/CEO of Food For The Poor, said the need for comfort and relief continues to grow as new assessments arrive from teams on the ground.
“When you look and see the destruction,” he said, “It’s frightening.”
Mahfood continued: “We must really start to think beyond this immediate relief now, and plan for the rebuilding of homes, schools and fishing villages.”
The relief group stated that 21 of 29 fishing villages, built by Food For The Poor in southwest Haiti, suffered significant damage, including 14 with roof problems and loss of freezers and equipment inside and seven that must be completely rebuilt.
It says five fishing villages in Leogane, Grand Goave and Petit Goave sustained no damage and are still operating. The status of three others is unknown. The damage also extends to the waters with mangroves appearing to have lost their typical green shade as if they were burnt. Massive erosion has covered once-fertile sea beds with sand. If the mangroves die, fish reproduction could be harmed.
Funded through donations and built by Food For The Poor, the fishing villages provide deep-sea fishing opportunities for food and needed income to communities that previously struggled to get either one from the sea.
The group said metal roofs were torn off many buildings. But across the ravaged landscape, most of the buildings still standing were homes and schools built by the charity. When teams arrived to assess the damage, grateful residents shared how they had taken shelter in Food For The Poor buildings during the storm.
Food For The Poor explained it has a plan to repair all of the damaged homes and schools and has divided the affected area into three groups based on their accessibility and need. The repairs are expected to be completed in an aggressive timeframe, depending on funding and availability of materials and access roads.
A barge with relief goods arrived Thursday in Pestel, east of Jeremie on the north coast, at the same time as Food For The Poor teams arrived. More aid arrived by truck in Jeremie Tuesday and Wednesday.
The group has also shipped items such as food, water, blankets and hygiene kits with soap, toothpaste and other personal care items to help prevent the spread of disease. The charity has 5,000 cases of oral rehydration salts in transit to treat cholera victims.
Hormel Foods, a longtime Food For The Poor partner, donated more 5,000 cases of food to the charity, which arrived in Miami this week and will be shipped to Haiti today.
The charity shipped and installed eight solar-powered water filtration units, including three in Les Cayes, three in Jeremie, one in Torbeck and one in Port Salut. Water Mission, in partnership with Food For The Poor, is helping to install the water filtration units. The filtration systems each can provide up to 10,000 gallons of water per day and reduce waterborne diseases.
The news update states that just two weeks before the harvest, the storm destroyed all of the gardens and fruit orchards in the affected area. Goats and chickens that people rely on for protein and income were drowned or washed away by floods. Beehives were crushed when trees fell on them. Food is scarce in remote areas, which has led to a sharp rise in food prices for people already vulnerable. The charity has committed to send nearly 2 million pounds of rice in the coming months to alleviate hunger.
Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti’s southwest coast on Oct. 4, unleashing Category 4 strength 145-mph winds and up to three-months rainfall in a 24-hour period, ranging from 15 to 40 inches.
The charity says the precise death toll from the storm remains uncertain. The Haiti government raised the official nationwide death toll to 473, including at least 244 deaths in Grand-Anse, according to the Associated Press. But local officials have said the toll is much higher. Reuters has reported more than 1,000 have died.
To help storm victims in Haiti, cash donations are best. To help right now, please call 1-800-427-9104 or visit www.FoodForThePoor.org/hurricane.
For those who would rather donate goods, Food For The Poor is accepting canned meats, canned fish and canned milk at its Coconut Creek warehouse at 6401 Lyons Road, Coconut Creek, Fla. 33073. At this time, the charity is not accepting clothing donations.
Food For The Poor, one of the largest international relief and development organizations in the nation, does much more than feed millions of the hungry poor primarily in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America.
This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 95 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.
Photo captions: 1) A grateful man carries bags of rice that were delivered along with other relief goods by barge to Pestel, Haiti on Thursday. 2) Robin Mahfood, CEO of Food For The Poor. 3) Michael Ireland.
About the Writer: Michael Ireland is a volunteer internet journalist serving as Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, as well as an Ordained Minister who has served with ASSIST Ministries and written for ASSIST News Service since its beginning in 1989. He has reported for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China, and Russia. Please consider helping Michael cover his expenses in bringing news of the Persecuted Church, by logging-on to: https://actintl.givingfuel.com/ireland-michael
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