MIAMI GARDENS, FLA. (WSVN) - After Hurricane Matthew battered Haiti and killed over 800 people, South Florida residents are working to pool together resources to help the country rebuild.
Donations have come in from everywhere to help those in Haiti. “I believe in service, and I believe that God put us here to serve, so we have to give back to the people in need,” said Dr. Marie Etienne of the Haitian American Nurses Association of Florida.
Nearly 30 Haitan-American businesses gathered at a Miami Gardens warehouse to sort through donated items to send to Haiti. Items donated have ranged from clothing and water to medication and food.
“A large majority of the people that are here are Haitian-Americans, so it’s our responsibility to make sure that our people at home is taken care of,” said Wanda Tima.
The southeastern part of the country was hit the hardest. At least 20,000 homes were destroyed and the risk for waterborne illnesses is increasing. The Pan American Health organization said a cholera outbreak may be on the horizon.
“Go to the American Red Cross and other philanthropic agencies to makes sure that we’re doing what we need to do to help people in need,” President Obama said.
Still recovering after suffering a devastating earthquake in 2010, Hurricane Matthew only made matters worse for Haiti. Entire roads were wiped out, including a bridge that connected the capital to the southern peninsula.
Some churches held residents who sent prayers to friends, family and the citizens in Haiti.
“Things are very chaotic, very critical, and there is an urgent need to take action at this point in time,” said Reginald Jean-Marie, a pastor at Notre Dame d’Haiti Church. “The urgent need is basically food, hygiene supplies and monetary donations.”
Faith leaders with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Miami who know the island well, along with the challenges it has faced, called for the donations in bulk, which they said will help them get to Haiti faster.
“We’re gonna reach out to the sailors and our community,” said Teresita Gonzalez of the Lay Missionary group Amor en Accion, “to the folks who have been so diligent in the past, that this is the moment for these large scales already palletized and ready donations that we have received from you before. These are the things that get there the quickest.”
The organizers tend to work until the job is done. “We are going to get this work done, and we are going to go ahead and send some help to Haiti because they need it,” said one woman.
Volunteers will be working at the warehouse Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., as well.
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