Haitian tent camps hit hard by two 2012 hurricanes
By Linda Espenshade for MCC
Before Hurricane Sandy devastated homes, beaches and entire communities in New Jersey and New York, the storm dumped as many as 20 inches of rain on parts of Haiti.
In late October floodwaters flowed through tent camps, where people are still living after their homes crumpled in a 2010 earthquake. The Haitian government reports Hurricane Sandy killed 54 people and caused an estimated $104 million loss to livestock, crops and infrastructure.
The impact of Hurricane Sandy, which compounded the effect of Hurricane Isaac in August, was especially destructive because 370,000 people are still living in tent camps since the 2010 earthquake, says Kristen Chege, a Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) worker from Eugene, Ore. MCC is an inter-Mennonite relief, development and peace agency that serves in the name of Christ.
“Whole camps flooded as streams emerged between tents,” she writes in an Oct. 29 blog entry on undertentshaiti.com. “Shelters fell under the weight of sitting water, dirt floors turned to mud and precious possessions were ruined. Efforts to raise mattresses off the ground using cinder blocks and to string clothes from wires inside their tent made little difference as the rain poured in through holes in the tent or seeped in below the walls.”
In response, MCC is distributing the relief kits, blankets and canned meat it had positioned in Haiti prior to hurricane season to 493 families, predominantly located in the southern part of the country. In addition, food rations will be purchased locally to supply those families for a five-week period.
The relief kits, which include soap, toothpaste, laundry detergent, towels and other hygiene supplies, are a base-line defense against cholera, which spreads through unclean water. The country is especially vulnerable because it doesn’t have proper sanitation and sewage systems.
MCC Haiti will distribute the supplies through one of its long-term partners, Network for the Defense of Human Rights (Réseau National de Défense des Droits Humains), a human rights monitoring and education group.
Contributions to MCC’s response in Haiti may be made at the nearest MCC office or online. Gifts should be designated for Haiti Emergency Assistance. In addition, MCC welcomes contributions of relief kits and blankets to replenish its supplies. For more information, visit mcc.org/kits.
In addition to responding in Haiti, MCC also is exploring a response in Cuba, where more than 300,000 people have been evacuated, 200,000 homes damaged and 74,000 acres of crops destroyed.
MCC constituents in the United States wishing to support the domestic response to Sandy are encouraged to contact Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS), a sister agency that responds to disasters in Canada and the U.S. Last week, an MCC East Coast partner, Kingdom Builders Construction in Philadelphia, sent a work group through MDS to Oasis Christian Center in Staten Island, N.Y., a church located in the midst of significant destruction.
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