The Salvation Army is mobilizing resources and personnel to assist with the international relief effort in Haiti following a severe earthquake last week that damaged much of the country's infrastructure, housing and commercial buildings.
The Salvation Army has had a presence in Haiti since 1950 and currently operates schools, clinics, a hospital, feeding programs, children's homes, and church-related activities spread across two major facilities in Port au Prince, close to the epicenter of the earthquake, and at other locations in the country.
One of the facilities, or compounds as it is referred to, includes a home for more than 50 children, a school with a daily attendance of 1,500 children, a medical clinic caring for 150-200 people daily, and a church that on any typical Sunday welcomes nearly 1,000 people. The facility is less than 10 minutes from the National Palace and is in an area known as St. Martin that's home to predominantly poor living in the nation's capitol.
According to reports from Salvation Army staff in Port au Prince, no one in the compound was injured during the earthquake, but the children's home, the clinic and church suffered major damage. Several smaller buildings, including residences, have collapsed completely. People were sleeping in the parking lot overnight, while severe aftershocks continued to affect the country.
The second compound that houses Salvation Army administrative offices is being used as an emergency operations center; damage was slight to this compound, according to Salvation Army reports from Haiti.
The Salvation Army hospital in Fond-des-Negres (75 miles west of Port au Prince) reports some minor damage, but no injuries.
The Salvation Army's World Services Office, based in Alexandria, Va., has committed $50,000 to the relief effort, and the organization is prepared to commit more financial resources as well as food, water and other emergency supplies to assist in the recovery.
The organization is preparing to send more than 44,000 pounds of pre-packaged emergency rations to the country, along with emergency disaster teams. The Salvation Army is working with other agencies to identify appropriate transportation for the food. As with all such relief efforts, the Salvation Army will be a part of the initial emergency response while assessing longer-term needs of the residents.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Haiti at this time and especially our Salvation Army officers and employees throughout the country," said Lt. Col. Dan Starrett, who directs the Salvation Army World Services Office.
The Salvation Army is accepting monetary donations to assist in the effort via www.salvationarmyusa.org, (800) SAL-ARMY, or postal mail at: The Salvation Army World Service Office, International Disaster Relief Fund, P.O. Box 630728, Baltimore MD 21263-0728.