FFTP Responds to Fiona in Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Haiti
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (September 20, 2022) Food For The Poor is responding with urgently needed aid to Puerto Rico, where families are recovering from catastrophic floods and mudslides from Hurricane Fiona.
The charity also is providing aid in the Dominican Republic, where Fiona made its second landfall early Monday.
And it continues to assess Haiti’s needs, after families fearing the storm over the weekend rushed to stockpile supplies only to find store shelves bare after a week of lockdowns due to violence and civil unrest.
Fiona’s blow to Puerto Rico was devastating as many residents haven’t recovered from Hurricane Maria, which slammed the island five years ago. Some 3,000 homes still only have tarps for roofs. The storm knocked out power and water to most of the island, took out a major bridge and destroyed 90 percent of plantain, banana and coffee crops.
At least three deaths were reported, two in Puerto Rico and one in the Dominican Republic as of Tuesday morning, according to news reports.
“The flooding was very significant,” FFTP President/CEO Ed Raine said. “The cleanup, aftermath and the disruption is really going to be immense. As we’ve learned and experienced with past storms, the flooding doesn’t spare anybody.”
While FFTP’s mission primarily is to serve internationally, the charity has responded in the past to catastrophic disasters in the United States and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.
And as previously, the charity’s trusted partners in Puerto Rico – Cáritas and the Episcopal Church – will oversee distribution of aid to families in critical need. The partners have provided a priority list of needs to FFTP that includes hygiene kits, adult and baby diapers, baby formulas, towels and cleaning supplies, mattresses and linens, solar-powered lights, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) stoves and generators.
FFTP intends to purchase goods locally where possible, and acquire and airfreight other items as needed.
The Episcopal Church is working to open four response centers on Wednesday with the support of local churches in the hardest hits areas. Cáritas will provide aid in 78 municipalities through a network of six dioceses.
“Disaster after disaster. And we can’t believe that we are having this again,” said Fr. Enrique Camacho, Executive Director of Cáritas Puerto Rico, in an interview with an Orlando, Fla., TV station. “There are people who are needing everything because they lost everything. They need clothes. They need food. They need water.”
Five years ago, FFTP responded after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico. That storm produced as much as 40 inches of rainfall and left nearly 3,000 people dead. And after a series of earthquakes in January 2020, the Episcopal Church distributed goods from FFTP in the same area still vulnerable when Fiona hit.
In the Dominican Republic, FFTP’s partners Order of Malta and Cáritas are responding to families impacted by Fiona. On Monday, the storm produced what forecasters called “life-threatening flash-flooding” in the eastern portions.
The storm damaged 54 homes, downed trees and power lines and forced 800 people to evacuate. At least 59 aqueducts were out of service, leaving more than 1 million people in the Dominican Republic without running water, according to the country’s emergency management officials.
The charity has pre-positioned two disaster relief kits to the Dominican Republic and one to Haiti.
Within hours after the storm’s landfall, the first kit was received by the Order of Malta in the Dominican Republic and was being readied for distribution in the area of Punta Cana. Here is a video showing the goods being organized: https://www.youtube.com/shorts/h2o-mL-lrYk
Each storm season, FFTP pre-positions the kits in countries most vulnerable to hurricanes to have them in place before disaster strikes. Each kit contains enough supplies to support 250 families, including tarps, disaster blankets, children’s activity kits, women’s care kits, oral rehydration solutions, water purification packets, hand-crank emergency radio flashlights, diapers and heavy-duty bags that in-country partners use to package individual kits for each family.
Haiti escaped the worst of Fiona’s wrath on Monday but continued to be seized by violence, barricades blocking the streets and increasing food insecurity due to lack of movement in the country.
FFTP-Haiti’s offices have been closed since last Tuesday due to the unrest.
Today, barricades were cleared from some streets in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and some traffic was moving.
“The situation remains tenuous and fragile,” Raine said. “There’s nothing changing. The conditions on the ground are terrible. People are desperate for food.”
Donors can help FFTP provide relief to Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Haiti by making a cash donation. Go to: www.FoodForThePoor.org/fiona
“Our primary job is to serve families in desperate need of help. And hurricanes are right at the top of that list,” Raine said. “This is what we do. The needs are enormous, but we are committed to being there in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Haiti, working together with our trusted partners and with the loving support of our dedicated donors.”
Food For The Poor, one of the largest international relief and development organizations in the nation, does much more than feed millions of hungry children and families living in poverty primarily in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicine, educational materials, homes, support for vulnerable children, care for the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.
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