FFTP Shares Expertise in Mock Disaster Drill at FIU’s Biscayne Bay Campus
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (July 11, 2023) As the world faces an increasing number of disasters requiring quick response, Food For The Poor (FFTP) will put its experience and expertise to the test during a field exercise with other organizations at Florida International University’s Biscayne Bay Campus in North Miami.
The four-day event kicks off Thursday and continues through Sunday.
The field exercise aims to groom the next generation of first responders and give students from FIU’s Academy for International Disaster Preparedness, the event’s host, firsthand experience in responding to a large-scale mock international disaster.
Last year, teams were dropped into a fictional country that had been devastated by an earthquake, enduring conditions they might encounter in the field such as sleeping in tents with no Wi-Fi access and eating MREs (meals ready-to-eat) for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This year, they will be responding to a fictional hurricane impacting an island in the Caribbean.
FFTP team members will be embedded into students’ teams, along with 70 Marines from the 4th Civil Affairs Group, Force Headquarters Group, which provides support to the U.S. Southern Command, a longtime FFTP partner.
Other partners expected to participate are representatives from FFTP-Haiti, and Caritas and Order of Malta from the Dominican Republic. Representatives from FEMA, USAID, U.S. Coast Guard and the Miami-Dade Fire Department also are expected to attend.
From 1 to 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday, participants will assist FFTP in packing 240 buckets with cleaning supplies to help the charity preposition them for future disaster response.
Over the years, FFTP has honed its experience in responding to large disasters from earthquakes in Haiti to back-to-back hurricanes in Central America to volcanic eruptions in Guatemala and on the island of St. Vincent. Key to the charity’s disaster response is the prepositioning of critical relief supplies in the Caribbean and Latin America so that partners can respond quickly if a storm, earthquake or other disaster strikes.
FFTP President/CEO Ed Raine said in times of disaster, partnerships between nongovernment organizations like FFTP and others are critical to helping families in crisis recover.
“It makes sense for us to partner with Florida International University, given their student base and faculty base and how much of it is focused on the Caribbean and Latin America just like us,” Raine said.
“We all have an opportunity as ambassadors of Food For The Poor to share what we do to get others excited about the mission, our purpose and of course for them to keep us in mind when they think about who’s going to respond to a disaster,” Raine added.
Lille Rietti, Director of Donations for FFTP partner CEPUDO in Honduras, said last year’s field exercise was an incredible learning experience. “At the same time, it reconfirmed the passion I have for serving others in emergency response,” she added.
Victoria Villa, an FIU student who attended last year’s exercise, said students could put into practice what they’ve learned in the classroom. “It was very instrumental,” Villa said. “What I feel was most invaluable was the inclusion of Food For The Poor and the military assets because they were able to bring a wealth of knowledge that we did not previously have and an understanding of the actual clusters and the needs and how resources and services can be provided in a humanitarian crisis.”
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.