Local non-profit helping in Haitian relief effort

International Relief Teams sending more than 7-million dollars worth of medical supplies

Things have gotten so bad in Haiti that on Wednesday evening, the country cancelled its upcoming presidential election, which was scheduled to be held this coming Sunday.

Now, more than $7 million worth of critical medical supplies are on their way from a San Diego relief agency. International Relief Teams, IRT is a San Diego non-profit that’s been helping people in catastrophic situations for the last 28-years. Now, their focus is centered on Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas.

Video of a Haitian highway gives you a glimpse of some of the destruction caused by Hurricane Matthew. But it also shows the challenge faced by relief agencies in getting help to the people that need it. The country’s roadways, littered with downed trees, some of the roads completely washed out.

“The best way we can help is by providing medications,” said Jenna Montgomery of International Relief Teams (IRT). Montgomery said as soon as they became aware of what a monster this storm was, and that Haiti was in the bulls eye, they did an assessment of how best they could help. “It’s antibiotics, analgesics, and re-hydration salts and that’s in the case of a cholera outbreak. Cholera is a big problem in Haiti already and we know from experience that there’s often a spike or an even bigger outbreak after a natural disaster like this,” Montgomery said.

That medication is in these big pallets, sitting in a warehouse in Georgia. Apart from the IRT label, the other one on the pallets if Map International. That’s a Georgia non-profit that helps IRT determine where the need is greatest and how best to get there. And, they have a partner on the ground in Haiti.

“We work with a local partner called Hope For Haiti and they are on the ground there in Luque which was one of the most heavily hit areas and we can’t even get in there yet because they’re still assessing the damage,” Montgomery said.

One huge part of that damage is in the town of Petit Goave. A major bridge washed away. Now some are so desperate to get to loved ones on the other side, they’re risking their lives by crossing the rushing water on foot.

“The roads have been washed out so we’ll either get a helicopter or a cargo plane. The logistics in a situation like this are minute to minute, they’re complicated and there’s no way to predict how it’s gonna go,” Montgomery said.

IRT only has seven staff members, so they’re able to turn 98-cents out of every dollar donated into relief. They’re very good at what they do. If you’d like to help them, go to their website.


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