Date: 03 Oct 2008
Food, medicine reach Cuba
As Cuban residents face the task of rebuilding after two devastating
storms, Catholic Relief Services and our partners are sending 350,000
pounds of food and supplies.
As of September 26, 2008, two shipping containers of food and supplies
had already arrived in Cuba. Nine containers have been scheduled to
arrive this week.
"This initial delivery of supplies will be used towards our goal of
assisting at least 20,000 Cubans," says Lynn Renner, CRS regional
representative for the Caribbean, noting that CRS is also working with
our Church partners and Caritas Internationalis to send roofing
materials for hundreds of families.
Hurricanes Gustav and Ike tore through Cuba on August 30 and September
9, causing $5 billion in damages according to Cuban government
estimates. Gustav's winds reached over 200 mph in Los Palacios, and
rains from both storms caused sea swells and flooding throughout the island.
Over 3 million people were evacuated, 444,000 homes suffered complete or
partial roof collapses, and more than 63,000 residences were demolished.
Schools, hospitals, water distribution, agriculture and the electrical
system received severe blows from the combination of wind, rain and
flooding. Downed trees and power lines, along with swollen rivers, cut
towns off from the rest of the island. The areas of Pinar del Río, Las
Tunas, Holguin, Camaguey and Isla de la Juventud are the most affected.
CRS is working with our South Florida partners, Daughters of Charity SVP
and Catholic Charities Miami, to provide the initial aid. CRS' Latin
America and Caribbean Severe Weather Fund helps assist residents who
have lost homes and necessities during times of disaster. They often
have little means of providing for themselves.
The Miami-based Daughters of Charity and teams of volunteers have been
working around the clock filling boxes with donated goods. Boxes of
relief supplies have overrun the sisters' homes and spilled out onto
their driveways. The goods are classified in accordance with Cuban and
U.S. government regulations. The containers will go directly to our
partner Caritas Cubana and will be delivered by them in conjunction with
local Cuban officials.
"There is no precedent for an emergency of this magnitude," says Caritas
Cubana Director Maritza Sánchez, "In the past we've been able to
purchase available supplies and offer assistance immediately, but the
market is facing a shortage. We are in need of food, water, hygiene
kits, roofing supplies, and household items such as sheets, towels and
CRS' Work in Cuba
CRS has worked with Caritas Cubana, the Catholic Church's relief agency,
to provide emergency humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable and
needy people in Cuba since 1993.
Over the years, CRS has delivered $26 million in medicine, medical
supplies, food and clothing to Cuba for distribution in hospitals, homes
for the elderly, and to children with Down syndrome and other vulnerable
The CRS Cuba office is located at CRS headquarters in Baltimore. Our
programs are overseen by a country manager in consultation with the
Catholic Church in Cuba.