New quick impact initiatives are being recommended to help the island nations of Haiti and Grenada recover from the recent slew of devastating hurricanes. After evaluating the situation in Haiti and Grenada, a team of United Methodist relief reported that urgent needs in Haiti include a speed-up of food distribution and reconstruction of homes, while Grenada needs help restoring its nutmeg industry and in rebuilding community centers that substitute for local government agencies.
After passing through the volatile nation of Haiti, David Sadoo, international field staff of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), and Margaret Stansberry, an aid consultant, described Haitian roads "sheared off" by mudslides and covered with boulders—the aftermath of Tropical Storm Jeanne.
To reach the countryside north of Gonaives, where 3,000 are dead or missing and feared dead, the team passed damaged or flattened homes, forded rivers where bridges had collapsed, and saw destruction of the garden plots that, in better times, had provided a livelihood for Haitian families.
In Gonaives, once a thriving cotton production center, a combination political violence and desperate hunger were creating a volatile climate, Sadoo reported. This, in turn, has hindered relief distribution. Relief supplies are not always reaching the people, UMCOR reported.
According to Sadoo, personnel of the United Nations' World Food Program reported that ships with containers full of emergency food were waiting to be unloaded, but dockworkers, fearing violence, were avoiding the ports.
The UMCOR team proposed stepped up efforts in home construction in the area north of Gonaives and more efforts to distribute food, health kits, and school supplies for children.
Meanwhile, in Grenada, where nutmeg is a major source of income, restoration of nutmeg farming and production is a priority for quick impact grants, UMCOR reported.
Longer-term recommendations include restoration of housing and community centers, which are vital resources in Grenada because they substitute for local government institutions. Sadoo and Stansberry explained that communities use their centers for libraries, day care, training, town hall meetings, and shelters.
After Hurricane Ivan hit the island nation, 90 percent of Grenada's buildings were flattened or damaged by the punishing winds.
Currently, in Haiti and Grenada, UMCOR is working with ecumenical partners to clear debris, rehab schools, and provide fresh water. The agency will announce additional plans in the next weeks and months.