MIAMI (WSVN) - South Floridians are coming together this weekend to collect supplies to send to Haiti, days after Hurricane Matthew claimed hundreds of lives in the impoverished island nation.
Meanwhile, aid workers are attempting to reach some of the hardest hit areas as the death toll from the powerful storm continues to climb.
Disturbing aerial footage from the island’s southwest region shows the devastation that washed away entire towns and resulted in the deaths of anywhere between 500 and 800 people. “The conditions are very horrible,” said the Rev. Reginald Jean-Mary, the administrator of Notre Dame d’Haiti Catholic Church in Little Haiti.
Since South Florida was spared Matthew’s destruction, many local residents have chosen to donate the supplies they stocked and did not use. “People wanna give,” said Haiti Relief Group member Gypsy Metellus. “People want to do something. The best form of help is in the form of cash or equipment.”
Many showed up at Notre Dame, Saturday, to bring supplies and pray for the victims “The response is very, very good,” said Jean-Mary. “From yesterday, a lot of people have been calling, and this morning, we have received a lot of goods so far in terms of food, in terms of water, in terms of hygiene supplies and medical supplies.”
Jean-Mary added that Haiti has been going through tough times not only during Hurricane Matthew, but for years. “People are suffering a lot,” he said. “It’s because what’s gong on in Haiti is not just today, but to remember we have been going through crisis and crisis.”
Miami-Dade Public Schools Superintendent Albert Carvalho was also at Notre Dame. He explained what the district is doing to help the people of Haiti.
“Tuesday we are going to begin a collection across all schools, all worksites for money,” said Carvalho. “For food, for toiletries. Items for school supplies to help both the children and their parents.”
Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski is asking churches in Miami to hold a special collection during Mass this weekend. All funds raised will be going toward those affected by Hurricane Matthew in the Caribbean and the U.S.
Among those who showed up at Notre Dame were Juan and Maria Gomez Sanchez. “We feel so blessed with everything that we have,” said Maria.
The couple said they wanted to remind their sons about their responsibility to help those in need. “Especially since Haiti has been hit so many times, so hard, over the years that there’s just very little that we can do, so every little thing that we do makes a difference,” said Juan.
All City of Miami Fire stations are also collecting supplies, specifically dry foods, diapers and first aid kits.
Children at Perez Art Museum Miami are sending their love to Haiti through postcards.
This weekend, volunteers also worked around the clock to collect and box up supplies at a warehouse in Miami Gardens.
Other significant contributors to the Haiti relief effort are the Man Dodo Humanitarian Foundation and the Haitian American Nursing Association. Both are collecting medical supplies and asking for volunteers.
Meanwhile, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez traveled to Haiti with County Commissioner Jean Monestime to evaluate Hurricane Matthew’s destruction up close.
“We have to move as quick as possible,” said Jean-Mary. “People are in need of shelter because, as you know, most of the homes have been destroyed, and the conditions are terrible and we are facing a possible humanitarian crisis. That’s the reason we have to act ASAP.”
7News cameras captured Gimenez and Monestime as they arrived at Miami International Airport from their trip to Haiti, Saturday night. “The Unites States government and the Haitian officials said, what they really want is to get help so they can re-stimulate the economy,” Gimenez told reporters. “Any help that comes from the United States, or anywhere, actually goes back into the economy so that they can do the rebuilding themselves.”
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