13 Jan | 2010
The Salvation Army responded immediately to the earthquake in Port-au-Prince, capital of Haiti, which caused extensive damage to buildings and significant loss of life.
Communication is proving difficult, with telephone lines down, but news received from The Salvation Army's Caribbean Territory indicates that considerable damage was done to Army property in the city. The divisional headquarters, the divisional commander’s house and the children’s home were all badly damaged. The home of Emergency Coordinator Bob Poff was totally destroyed but Bob and his wife, Vivienne, are safe.
Of great concern in the hours after the earthquake was the fact that a number of children from the Salvation Army children’s home were unaccounted for. It was not initially clear whether they were in the home when the earthquake struck or they had not yet returned from school. Latest reports say that all but one of the home's 52 children has now been found.
The Caribbean Territory has been assured of help from International Headquarters (IHQ). The Salvation Army World Services Organisation (SAWSO), based in the USA, reports that Major George Polarek is travelling to Haiti on Thursday (14 January) to coordinate the various logistics needed to get food air-lifted into Haiti. At least 285,000 meals are ready to be sent and SAWSO is working through various channels and high-level US Government contacts.
Four Salvation Army territories have already offered financial assistance but this is only the beginning. More offers of support will be gratefully received.
International Emergency Services personnel at IHQ are on standby, ready to take action as soon as there is a clearer picture of what level of support is needed.
As recently as November 2009 General Shaw Clifton and Commissioner Helen Clifton were in Haiti, visiting some of the places that are now badly damaged by the quake. The General calls the worldwide Salvation Army to prayer for the people of Haiti whose lives have been so tragically affected by the earthquake, and for the many people who will be seeking to offer help and support.
Donations to the 'Latin America Disaster Fund' can be made online.
Media inquiries in the USA should be directed to Matt Meenan of The Salvation Army’s public relations agency, Xenophon Strategies. He can be reached at 1.202.777.2040 or by email.