CRWRC helps Haitian victims

By October 14, 2008

Haiti (MNN) — The 14th tropical storm of the season formed in the Atlantic Ocean on Sunday, reports the U.S. National Hurricane Center. Tropical Storm Nana is expected to weaken to a tropical depression and has a "bleak" prospect of long-term survival.

The storm has curved well away from vulnerable Caribbean islands and the U.S. mainland. This is good news for Haiti as the impoverished island was swamped by 4 major storms in the same month, causing mass destruction and death.

Because Haiti was already facing a food crisis before hurricane season, people have been forced to eat cookies made of clay because they cannot find enough food.

CRWRC has distributed $40,000 of food aid to families in need and continues to provide hurricane relief. The food distribution took place through CRWRC partner churches across the country, and at each location pastors and deacons met with families to determine need. Families were then asked to come to the pastor or deacon's house on a certain date to receive their one-week supply of food.

Major deforestation has left mountainous Haiti susceptible to mudslides and flooding resulting from heavy rains. People in Haiti live on $2 or less a day, in mud-huts, unable to withstand hurricane-force winds. Homes have had the walls washed out, roofs blown off, and some have been filled with water.  

"One home had water literally dug a channel right behind it, separating it from the hill," said Jenny LeMahieu of Christian Reformed World Missions, "with two places where the water broke through the concrete walls, filling the home with about 2 ½ feet of water. [The family] praised God that they were at church while this happened, so their children weren't swept away or drowned in the water."

Hundreds have perished in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, mostly due to flooding. This year's storm season has been worse than average; about 10 tropical storms and six hurricanes usually compose the six-month hurricane season. 14 tropical storms have formed to date since June and six of those have become hurricanes.

The Haitian Civil Protection announced new data from the August and September storms. "793 people were killed, 466 of them in the city of Gonaives alone, the hardest hit by the storms," said civil protection spokeswoman Alta Jean-Baptiste. "There are 310 people unaccounted for and 548 injured."

Although the food distributions have been successful, there's still much work to be done. Many places lost everything and will need to rebuild homes and replant crops, in addition to the ongoing need for food aid. The people desire to get businesses back up and running. "The community there seemed to be helping each other out as much as they could," said LeMahieu, but they still need help.

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