Hurricane Preparedness Week: FFTP Puts Supplies in Place Before Disaster Strikes
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (April 27, 2023) National Hurricane Preparedness Week, May 1 – 7, is fast approaching, and Food For The Poor (FFTP) is getting ready. The charity is preparing to position critical relief supplies in the Caribbean and Latin America so that its partners can respond quickly if a storm, earthquake or other disaster strikes.
Forecasters are expecting a slightly below-average 2023 hurricane season, which begins on June 1. Scientists at Colorado State University have predicted that 13 tropical storms will form during the season, with six becoming hurricanes. A tropical storm becomes a hurricane when sustained winds reach 74 miles per hour.
“The forecast for a slightly below-average hurricane season is encouraging, but that in no way diminishes the possibility of a hurricane or another disaster striking one of the countries we serve,” FFTP President/CEO Ed Raine said. “Prepositioning our relief supplies gives our in-country partners the advantage of responding immediately to needs on the ground without having to wait countless hours for supplies to be shipped to help people in desperate need.”
Prepositioning proved beneficial last September when Hurricane Fiona made landfall in the Dominican Republic with “life-threatening flash flooding” in eastern portions of the country. The storm damaged 54 homes, downed trees and power lines and forced 800 people to evacuate.
Within 24 hours after the storm’s landfall, Order of Malta in the Dominican Republic was mobilizing 500 prepositioned kits that were already in the country for distribution in the area near Punta Cana.
This year, disaster kits will be sent to the following nine countries, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, St. Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago. FFTP also is preparing to preposition four domestic kits for response to disasters in the United States.
The international kits will have enough supplies to support 250 families in each country, with the exception of Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Guatemala, where FFTP is working with partners in two locations to expand its reach. In those countries, two kits will provide assistance for 500 families.
Each kit will include 250 tarps, 320 disaster blankets, 280 children’s activity kits from Midwest Mission Distribution Center, 540 disaster hygiene kits with hygiene items from MAP International, 250 women’s care kits, 7,000 packets of Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier, an oral rehydration solution, 5,500 water purification packets from Water Mission, 250 hand-crank emergency radio flashlights and 5,000 diapers. FFTP also provides heavy-duty bags that in-country partners use to package individual relief kits for each family.
In 2021, the charity sent Living Water Treatment Systems from Water Mission to eight of the nine countries. The system is capable of purifying 10,000 gallons of water a day and providing water for 5,000 people. In addition, FFTP-Jamaica serves as a key committee member of the WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) coordination group working closely with the Ministry of Health and Wellness, UNICEF and the Jamaican Defense Force.
“If a disaster occurs in Jamaica that requires water purification, sanitation and hygiene for impacted families, FFTP-Jamaica will seamlessly coordinate the use of the unit with the WASH coordination group to determine the best way to use the water purification unit to get water to those in need,” said Jisabelle Garcia-Pedroso, FFTP’s Director of Programs and Operations.
In 2022, FFTP began including items specifically for women and children, going beyond the traditional supplies given to families struggling in the aftermath of a disaster.
“When a disaster occurs, there’s not a lot of time to pack all the personal essentials women will need, especially if it’s a landslide or another event that doesn’t come with an advisory or warning, so these kits mean a great deal to women when they are most vulnerable,” Garcia-Pedroso said. “Providing toys or games for children gives them a healthy distraction from the turmoil, and it gives their parents the breathing room they need to focus on recovery in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.”
In preparation for the shipment of supplies, FFTP hosted its first Hearts United Community Day of 2023 on Saturday, April 18, when 141 volunteers from churches, businesses and schools packed 2,400 women’s care kits at the charity’s Coconut Creek warehouse.
“We sincerely appreciate our volunteers for their contribution of time to Food For The Poor,” Raine said. “In supporting us, they are helping families in their darkest hour, and we are sincerely grateful.”
As part of its disaster response plans, FFTP will maintain two international air freight-ready disaster response kits in the charity’s Coconut Creek warehouse. Each kit contains 200 tarps, 90 disaster blankets, 3,240 cans of Vienna sausages, 540 disaster hygiene kits, and 60 two-burner propane stoves. The kits can be sent within days to replenish supplies if one of the nine countries exhausts its supply of prepositioned relief kits. They also can be sent to assist any of the other countries the charity helps in the Caribbean and Latin America.
While FFTP’s mission primarily is to serve internationally in the Caribbean and Latin America, the charity does respond in the United States whenever it is able after hurricanes strike domestically. For example, last September when Category 4 Hurricane Ian made landfall near Fort Myers, Fla., knocking out power to more than 2 million homes and businesses, FFTP sent relief items to the Florida Catholic Conference and the Florida United Methodist Conference for distribution to families recovering from the hurricane.
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, 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.