MCC is responding to the devastation left by Hurricane Sandy when it swept through Haiti in late October.
Parts of Haiti received as much as 20 inches (508 mm) of rain, flooding tent camps and killing 54 people according to reports from the Haitian government. Loss to livestock, crops and infrastructure are estimated at $104 million.
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, said Kristen Chege, a Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) worker from Eugene, Ore.
“Whole camps flooded as streams emerged between tents,” she wrote 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 relief kits, blankets and canned meat it had positioned in Haiti prior to the hurricane season. These kits will be distributed 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 especially is 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 at donate.mcc.org. 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 mcccanda.ca/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.
People wishing to support the Hurricane Sandy response in the U.S. are encouraged to contact Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS), a sister agency that responds to disasters in Canada and the U.S. (mds.mennonite.net).