Thursday, March 18, 2010
The following report is a personal account of Haiti’s January 12 earthquake as seen through the eyes of The Salvation Army’s Divisional Commander Lucien Lamartiniere. It was submitted by Stacy Howard, Public Information Officer for The Salvation Army’s Haiti Incident Command in Port-au-Prince.
Jan. 12, 2010 – 3:30 PM.
He described it as any other afternoon. The Salvation Army’s Haiti Divisional Commander Lucien Lamartiniere wrapped up a meeting at the Divisional Headquarters building. It ran later than expected.
The Major dropped his wife Marie off at a friend’s house. He noted this as being the first time ever, she didn’t want to go straight home with him, but wanted to visit her friend.
Major Lamartiniere planned to stop at the store to buy a drink. He forgot, and headed home.
He stood in his kitchen where he opened the fridge to grab a drink. The earth shook, his house began to crumble around him and in what he says “felt like forever” he ran outside. His gate was locked. The earth still shook – hard enough to break the gate open. He ran into the street where he watched his own house and his neighbors’ collapse. “I thought it was the end of the Earth,” Lamartiniere said.
The shaking stopped. In less than one minute, one of the most devastating earthquakes in history nearly demolished an entire country. He called his wife. No answer. He walked to search for her. When he finally arrived at her friend’s house, he breathed a sigh of relief as their house still stood. But Marie had left – to search for him.
Marie returned home, to see their car smashed under the caved-in house. She feared the worse.
Major Lamartiniere arrived on foot, back at his house where he reunited with his wife.
Two months later he shares his story as if it happened yesterday. Watching his eyes it’s clear every time he speaks of the quake he’s immediately taken back to the time, the place, the fear…and the hope.
He credits four miracles from God, as the reasons he survived what at least 230,000 others did not.
1. The meeting ran late. Had it finished earlier the participants likely would have been shopping in a location where most buildings fell.
2. Marie went to her friend’s house to visit. The house survived, while hers did not. She would have been in her own kitchen preparing dinner. The roof caved in over the kitchen and dining room.
3. The Major forgot to stop at the store. That store no longer exists.
4. His instinct told him to run, the second the shaking started. Many Haitians’ deaths are said to be due to lack of understanding in how to properly escape. Many thought they should stay inside for shelter.
Since the day that forever changed Haiti, Lamartiniere says many people who never sought The Salvation Army’s services before, now flock to the organization for help. The staff originally found some food that survived in storage and began cooking meals for those in need.
Once The Salvation Army established an Incident Command to spearhead the relief efforts, people began to form a tent city camp next to the former Divisional Headquarters, school and clinic which partially collapsed. With aid from around the world, The Salvation Army began its ongoing food distributions which now feed 20,000. One camp member expressed his gratitude to the Incident Command Team. “Without The Salvation Army we would die. Thank you.”
The Majors still live in a tent in the former Divisional Headquarters’ parking lot. They wanted and needed to be with their people, to let them know they were there beside them.
Major Lamartiniere’s primary hope for the future is to move people into permanent housing outside Port-au-Prince.
His outlook is simple. “I know The Salvation Army can’t do everything…but we’re going to be here to do what we can.”
The Salvation Army set up a Haiti relief fund and is accepting monetary donations. Donors may contribute $10 via their phone bill by text messaging the word “HAITI” to 52000, and confirming the donation with the word, “Yes.” Donors can also give via www.salvationarmyusa.org, 1-800-SAL-ARMY and through the mail at: The Salvation Army World Service Office, International Disaster Relief Fund, P.O. Box 630728, Baltimore, MD 21263-0728 with designation “Haiti Earthquake.”
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
The Washington Post discussed today the threat that Haiti’s upcoming rain and flood season poses to the 700,000 people still living in tent cities in Port-au-Prince. The article discussed the sever sanitary problems that could arise in the congested camps as a result of rain, saying:
Government officials and relief organizations fear that Port-au-Prince will turn into a massive sewer of bacteria and disease when rains hit with their characteristic unrelenting gusto, possibly followed by June hurricanes…
“With the rains come the risk of water-borne diseases, which create intestine bacteria and diarrhea, and diarrhea is deadly to children,” said Simon Ingram, a spokesman for UNICEF. The organization estimates that 250,000 children are displaced. In addition, health-care providers noted that the rain can also escalate malaria cases as mosquitoes reproduce near stagnant water.
Relief workers are racing against mother nature to register displaced individuals and families in order to assess need and plan for relocation before the skies begin to pour. The Salvation Army has been working to register Haitians early on in our relief efforts, and UPS donated use of their high-tech Trackpad technology to increase speed and efficiency of our registration process.
The Salvation Army has also submitted a proposal to USAID for funding to provide 10,000 transitional shelters for the 20,000 Haitians over whom we care for near our Port-au-Prince headquarters. These shelters will provide greater protection against the torrential rains and support a more sanitary environment for Haitians to live in. A more detailed description of the project proposal can be found on an earlier blog entry, and we will post any updates on this project as they become available.
For more information about our work in Haiti, please visit our national website at www.salvationarmyusa.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter. You may also contribute to our ongoing Haiti relief efforts by donating online.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
You may have read about or heard of the many Million Meals packing events The Salvation Army has been hosting in partnership with Numana, Inc. Thousands of volunteers from Indiana, California, Kansas, Missouri, and other states have already turned out to these community events to help us package several million meals for earthquake survivors in Haiti.
Get excited because we have another opportunity coming up this weekend! Our next Million Meals event will be held in Wichita, Kansas on Saturday, March 20 and Sunday, March 21. We appreciate all the support we’ve received thus far and we need your continued efforts to reach our goal of providing this food for Haiti! Below is what you need to know about how to get involved. More detailed information can be found at The Salvation Army Wichita website at www.millionmeals.net.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
The Salvation Army currently serves as the UN-designated “lead agency” for some 20,000 individuals who are living in tents within a soccer stadium near the Army’s Port-au-Prince headquarters. As Haiti’s rainy season approaches, The Salvation Army is making it a priority to transition refugees from the camp into temporary shelters, and we have submitted a proposal to USAID for funding to provide 10,000 transitional shelters for these people.
Mr. Lyle Laverty, volunteer and former Assistant Secretary of Interior for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, recently arrived back in the United States after serving a three-week deployment to Haiti on behalf of The Salvation Army. He and a technical working group have already created frame specifications and a proposal for what the shelter should look like and the construction materials needed. A model was built in only one day and used to demonstrate to USAID the construction process.
The Salvation Army proposal would use salvaged timber killed by mountain pine beetles in Colorado. This would create jobs in Colorado while providing a green and environmentally conscious solution for the use of the wood. The Salvation Army would train crews and hire local workers in Haiti to construct the shelters which would not only provide jobs, but also provide technical skills for Haitians to use in future construction projects. These transitional housing units will provide a safer and more structurally sound environment than has been available to many Haitians.
Additionally, a wonderful relationship is established with Senator Joseph Lambert in Haiti. Senator Lambert, President of the Parliament, arranged a meeting with the Minister of Interior to discuss The Salvation Army’s response to the disaster and strategy to assist the people of Haiti with transitional shelter.
The Salvation Army awaits word from USAID on whether its proposal will be accepted. As soon as an answer is provided, TSA will act promptly so as to ease the human suffering caused by the earthquake of January 12.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
The Salvation Army’s next meal packing event for Haiti disaster relief will take place in the Los Angeles, CA area on Friday, March 12 and Saturday, March 13, 2010. If you live in or near this area, come show your support for those in need by rolling up your sleeves and helping! Our goal is 1 million meals, so bring your friends!
Again, here are the details:
WHAT: Million Meals for Haiti Packaging Event with The Salvation Army and Numana
WHO: You and Anyone Else You Can Recruit (ages 12 yrs.or older, please!)
WHEN: Teams are being recruited for the following shifts:
Friday, March 12
8:00AM to 12:00PM
12:00PM to 4:00PM
4:00PM to 8:00PM
Saturday, March 13
8:00AM to 12:00PM
12:00PM to 4:00PM
4:00PM to 8:00PM
WHERE: The Salvation Army’s warehouse at 5600 Rickenbacker Road, Building 1C and 1D, Bell, California. Click here for a map to the Bell warehouse.
And don’t forget to register online!
For more information, visit The Salvation Army’s Southern California website. You can also find helpful details on their blog and Facebook page.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
The following was submitted by The Salvation Army’s Stacy Howard, who is serving as the Public Information Officer for Haiti Incident Command in Port-au-Prince:
“Both armies wear a uniform; both are respected as two of the most organized groups in the world; both have a common mission in Haiti.
The Salvation Army’s goal is to help survivors of the massive quake with a hand up – to provide support through basic need, medical and spiritual assistance. The U.S. Army’s Haiti Relief Mission: Provide humanitarian support to the country’s surviving population, most of which have been injured or affected by the earthquake in some way. Together the two armies have formed a unique and powerful partnership since the quake. Together they assist, aid, protect and serve.
“The Salvation Army was receptive and there was mutual respect,” said Lt. Cody Tinsley, 1 Platoon, A Company, 2 Battalion, 325 Air Infantry Regiment regarding the first of what became many joint missions of food distribution. As the platoon leader, Tinsley led operations that included safely escorting The Salvation Army staff and distribution items via military convoy and security for the nearly 8,000 displaced families. While the U.S. military took charge of security measures, The Salvation Army ran the distribution. At the twice-a-week event, nearly 16,000 people received boxed meals provided by Numana, buckets and bottles of cooking oil.
(L to R) The Salvation Army Haiti Command Distribution Coordinator Jonathan Fitzgerald, 1 Platoon, A Company, 2 Battalion, 325 Air infantry Regiment Lt. Cody Tinsley and The Salvation Army Haiti Comman d Public Information Officer Stacy Howard prepare to distribute food to nearly 8,000 families.
(L to R) The Salvation Army Haiti Command Distribution Coordinator Jonathan Fitzgerald, 1 Platoon, A Company, 2 Battalion, 325 Air infantry Regiment Lt. Cody Tinsley and The Salvation Army Haiti Command Public Information Officer Stacy Howard prepare to distribute food to nearly 8,000 families.
As expected immediately after the quake, disorder and chaos ensued from thousands who rushed for the items. Tinsley said together, both Armies quickly controlled the situation after assessing the needs and safety issues of all involved.
Once distributions became a regular mission of the Armies, the ebb and flow made it simple for families to be served. At post-mission debriefings the two Armies discussed ways to improve distribution, shared ideas and came up with a plan that worked for everyone, Tinsley said. Because of mutual respect and trust, each Army let the other take the lead in the area they knew best.
In the end, the Haitian disaster relief is a humanitarian mission for both Armies. Despite the sometimes intimidating appearance the U.S. military might portray, as Tinsley said, they adapt to the mission. They realize this is not a war zone. They aren’t here to occupy, they’re here to protect and serve – and at times, even entertain.
Several members of the platoon played music and danced to entertain the families in line. The children’s faces lit up. Tinsley said it’s important to remind the survivors we’re all here to help – whether it’s with food, security or a little comedic relief.
The Salvation Army has been in Haiti since 1950, and will remain. The U.S. Army will also stay as long as they’re needed to provide support. Whether in Haiti, or elsewhere in the world, The Salvation Army and U.S. Army have and will continue to partner during disaster relief operations with a joint goal: Restore humanity and hope.
Two armies – one mission.”
To stay updated on The Salvation Army’s work, visit our national website at www.salvationarmyusa.org or follow us on Facebook and
Sunday, January 24, 2010
On Monday, January 25, in a small sign that life will return to normal, more than a week after Haiti’s earthquake, The Salvation Army will re-open a school…