MIAMI (WSVN) - Ever since Hurricane Matthew battered the Caribbean, hundreds of volunteers across South Florida have been hard at work to do their part to help Haiti, and now City of Miami Fire Rescue Stations across Miami are lending a helping hand.
Sunday morning, Gypsy Metellus of the South Florida Haiti Relief Group and several volunteers set up a table on Washington Avenue, in Miami Beach, to raise money.
Metellus said the most helpful contribution South Floridians can make is two-fold. “People want to give. People want to do something. The best form of help at this point is in the form of cash or equipment,” she said.
Meanwhile, congregants came together for a very meaningful mass at Notre Dame d’Haiti Catholic Church in Little Haiti, Sunday morning. Speaking before the congregation, Miami-Dade Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho joined in the call for help.
He explained what the school district is doing for the people of Haiti. “On Tuesday, we’re going to begin a collection across all schools, all work sites, for money, for food, for toiletry items, for school supplies, to help both the children and their parents,” he said.
Many Notre Dame members are Haitian-Americans with deep connections to the island nation. They are leaning on their faith for loved ones back home.
“It makes me so sad inside when I see my brother and my sister suffer,” said Ann Marie Gideon whose family is in Haiti. ” I give a little of what I have.”
“People are suffering a lot,” said the Rev. Reginald Jean-Mary, the house of worship’s administrator. “It’s because what’s going on in Haiti is not just today, but you remember, we have been going from crisis to crisis.”
Haiti was still recovering from the 2010 earthquake when Hurricane Matthew made landfall, Tuesday. The storm left nearly 900 people dead and hundreds of thousands in need.
The strong winds wiped away critical infrastructure like plantations, roads, and a bridge from the capital to the southern peninsula. The storm knocked out electricity, water supply and communications. More than 20,000 homes were damaged or destroyed, and disease is beginning to spread.
Marlene Bastien, the Executive Director of Fanm Ayisyen nan Miyami, Haitian Women of Miami, said that the destruction caused by Matthew is clear for all to see.
“You saw the pictures, the pictures of complete destruction and disarray. We know now that close to a thousand Haitians died, and from all accounts the number will increase,” Bastien said.
The waterborne disease Cholera already plagues Haiti, and Institute of Justice and Democracy Immigration Policy Coordinator Steve Forester said the storm has already helped it spread.
“At least 100 in just two towns, new cholera cases and deaths as well, among them,” Forester said.
Forester and Bastien called on President Barack Obama and the Department of Homeland Security to cease all deportations of Haitians. They asked the DOHS to redesignate all Haitian refugees to temporary protected status because of the hurricane.
“My son is detained in San Diego. I don’t have any access to him. He’s detained. I’m asking for President Obama to release my son, have compassion,” Bastien said.
“Matthew makes it really obscene to contemplate deporting people,” Forester said.
Over the weekend, donations began piling up across fire rescue stations in Miami-Dade County. “The community has responded to the cries of a country in its dire needs,” explained Mire Fire Rescue Capt. Ignatius Carroll. “We are just overwhelmed by the response of this community and we want the people of haiti to know that we stand with them and support efforts are on their way as soon as possible.”
Donations can be dropped off at any City of Miami Fire Rescue station.
Volunteers at a warehouse in Miami Gardens worked around the clock this past weekend. Box after box filled with clothes, food, water, medication and hygiene products was filled and taped up to be sent to the impoverished country.
The U.S. military has delivered more than 98,000 pounds of relief supplies to Haiti and have hundreds on the ground to help out.
In Broward County, Food for the Poor is also taking donations.
For more information on how to help Haiti go to http://www.lunionsuite.com. We also have a list of other ways to help, Haiti which can be found here.
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