Friday, January 15, 2010

CRS distributes food from Haitian warehouses, Dominican Republic

By Carol Zimmermann
Catholic News Service
January 15, 2010

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Although getting basic supplies such as food and water to the hundreds of thousands left homeless by Haiti's Jan. 12 earthquake has been a Herculean task, aid workers were finding ways around traffic blockades, crowds of people and the country's lack of infrastructure.

Baltimore-based Catholic Relief Services, which is coordinating the church's relief and recovery efforts in Haiti, was able to get a jump-start on distributing aid because it already had warehouses filled with supplies in Haiti set up after the 2008 hurricanes in the region.

After it distributed plastic sheeting, water storage containers, mosquito nets, and hygiene kits from the Port-au-Prince warehouse Jan 14, the agency began distributing supplies from one of its other warehouses in Les Cayes, about 90 miles from Port-au-Prince.

CRS volunteers and staff in the Dominican Republic were purchasing and assembling boxes of food, including sardines and peanut butter, to deliver to Port-au-Prince. The ultimate goal was to have enough boxes of prepared food to feed 50,000.

Bill Canny, CRS' director of emergency operations, spoke to Catholic News Service while traveling from the Dominican Republic to Haiti. He said some of the relief efforts were still a work in progress, for instance, distribution of food from the U.S. government that arrived in Port-au-Prince via ship Jan. 15.

"We're waiting to see how that develops," he said.

The agency was sending additional supplies from the Dominican Republic: water storage containers and water purification tablets for 2,000 families; and plastic sheeting, water storage containers, mosquito nets and hygiene kits to serve an additional 500 families.


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