It’s also assisting earthquake victims in Mexico.
Baltimore, Md (KM). The destruction caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and the earthquakes in Mexico, looks almost beyond belief. But Catholic Relief Services, based in Baltimore, has people on the ground in those areas, working with residents to rebuild their lives. Communications Director Caroline Brannon says she has been in contact with CRS personnel in the Caribbean. “You have these initial obstacles on day one in terms of just the infrastructure that has been devastated: roads, access to areas. We’re trying to get transportation and supplies–and people–from one place to the next,” she says.
Brannon also says she’s been in contact with a CRS representative in Mexico City, where the earthquakes hit hard. “She just said today the city woke up feeling so sad. It’s like Mexico’s soul was shaken again,” she said. Many Mexicans still remember when their nation was hit by an earthquake in 1985 which killed 5,000 people.
CRS has personnel in Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Barbuda and Antigua for Hurricane Irma. It also has people in Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic and Dominica for Hurricane Maria. Brannon says many individuals and supplies were placed there prior to the hurricanes’ arrivals. “We had propositioned supplies before the storms at least we knew that were coming to areas that were closer to them so we could have materials at the ready,” she said.
Long after the journalists and TV news cameras have gone away, Brannon says Catholic Relief Services will be there for the long term .It involves more than just repairing and rebuilding homes. . “For the rebuilding of safe homes that are resistant to storm m, and heavy tremors and earthquakes, and the rebuilding of peoples’ livelihoods which may have been destroyed.,” she said.
Brannon says the recent multiple disasters have put a pinch on CRS’ operations, but the non-profit is also receiving help from local residents. “We’re very mindful of how fortunate we are to have a key partner in the Catholic Church which has such a large presence across Mexico, across these islands that are affected,” she said. “They have an infrastructure of offices. They have networks in these communities of volunteers,these diocesan volunteers, who are mobilized and at the ready.”
But Brannon says CRS serves everyone, regardless of religious belief. “We don’t help people because they’re Catholic. We help people because we are Catholic,” she said.
Catholic Relief Services says anyone can help out with the relief effort by sending their prayers and making monetary contributions. They can go online to www.crs.org, or call 1-877-HELP-CRS (4357-277). Or send a check to CRS at P.0. Box 17090, Baltimore, Md. 21297-0303.
By Kevin McManus