Disaster Forum Kicks Off with Salvation Army Update on Haiti
This morning, Major George Polarek, who recently returned from Haiti, offered the audience at BCLC’s forum on National Resiliency and Gulf Coast Recovery several on-the-ground insights on earthquake response from the Salvation Army’s perspective.
The Salvation Army has operated in Haiti for 60 years. Its main compound in Haiti is Delmas 2 in Port-au-Prince, “the second-worst area in Haiti,” says Polarek. The Salvation Army contingent in Haiti is one of the organization’s largest in the hemisphere. 60 officers speak Creole and are ingrained in the Haitian culture.
Pre-earthquake, the compound included a 1,500-student school and a nearby soccer field.
Post-earthquake, 12,000 survivors have set up a camp on or near the soccer field and Delmas 2. The UN has given the Salvation Army management responsibility of the soccer field camp and a nearby camp — the Salvation Army now has 20,000 homeless Haitians under its direct care.
According to Polarek, the Salvation Army is able to distribute 10,000 MREs (meals ready to eat) within 10 minutes in Haiti. It is able to filter 30,000 liters of water every single day to provide survivors clean drinking water. Thousands of people have received medical, nutritional, and security assistance from Salvation Army team members.
The good news today is that the Salvation Army has been able to re-open a makeshift school in Delmas 2. While the road ahead to make people feel secure and safe in Haiti is long and arduous, this small but significant achievement will hopefully bring much-needed comfort to three- to six-year-olds affected by the crisis.
See the Salvation Army’s website for more information.