ShelterBox teams at work in ravaged Haiti

Scenes of destruction in Haiti

Even as parts of Haiti still were recovering from a catastrophic 2010 earthquake, Hurricane Matthew tore through the impoverished island nation earlier this week, leaving more than 300 people dead, tens of thousands homeless, and much of the infrastructure damaged.

The Category 4 storm has affected an estimated 330,000 people in Haiti, including 6,400 who have been moved to temporary shelters.

Extensive damage to main bridges and other transportation networks have left some areas cut off and vulnerable. Torrential rains have resulted in flooding and landslides. And,  contaminated water supplies threaten to lead to a surge in cholera cases and other waterborne illnesses.

A ShelterBox response team of volunteers from the U.S., Canada, England, and New Zealand traveled to the capital city of Port-au-Prince Friday to assess the damage and decide how best to help people. The independent charity is Rotary’s project partner for disaster relief.

ShelterBox has limited supplies available in Haiti but is working with the Dutch navy to bring more from nearby storage sites. The charity also is exploring a partnership with ACTED, a French nongovernmental (NGO) aid agency, which ShelterBox has worked with in the past.

“We are exploring every option to get aid to Haiti as quickly as possible,” said Chris Warham, chief executive of ShelterBox. “Working in partnership could give us more flexibility and capacity to reach isolated communities in the country.”

With wind speeds reaching 155 mph or higher, Hurricane Matthew is considered the worst storm to make landfall in Haiti in more than 50 years. The Disaster Network Assistance Rotarian Action Group and Rotary District 7020 are collecting donations for Haiti relief. Contact for information about how to contribute.

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