The Union for Reform Judaism collected approximately $40,000 to help the victims of the hurricanes that ravaged Florida and Haiti, where the city of Gonaives was particularly hard hit, with floodwaters reaching three meters in some places. The death toll in Haiti exceeded 1,600 and the massive loss of housing, livestock and crops will have devastating consequences for Haitis already poorest region.
US HURRICANE UPDATE The hurricanes that crossed Florida and other parts of the Southeast this fall left much devastation in their wake. Some congregations cancelled High Holy Day services as their members evacuated to safer ground, and congregations across the country opened their doors to those fleeing the storm.
The Southeast Council office has been in contact with concerned colleagues and congregants from all over the region and North America asking how they can assist the congregations that have been most impacted by hurricanes Charley, Frances and Ivan. We are awaiting word from these congregations as to whether they will need assistance to for losses not covered by their insurance.
Throughout this ordeal, our congregations have responded positively to the request for donations to the Unions Hurricane Emergency Relief Fund.
HURRICANE RELIEF FUND DISTRIBUTION
Thus far, $25,500 has been allocated for hurricane relief, as follows:
American Friends Service Committee (AFSC): $3,750 The agricultural communities on the southern coast of Haiti were particularly hard-hit by the hurricanes, with the destruction of crops, fruit trees, and livestock. Funds donated to AFSC will be spent to help rebuild homes and outbuildings, restore lost livestock and equipment, and replant lost trees, which are critical in the prevention of erosion.
American Jewish World Service for Fonkoze: $3,750 AJWS is currently working with Fonkoze (Shoulder to Shoulder) - Haiti's Alternative Bank for the Organized Poor - the largest micro-finance institution in Haiti, offering a full range of financial services to the rural-based poor. At least 1,000 of Fonkozes clients live in the specific areas hardest hit by the floods. Fonkoze will provide emergency relief including food, clean water, clothing, and shelter.
American Jewish World Service for Movimiento Social-Cultural de los Trabajadores Haitianos (MOSCTHA): $2,500 MOSCTHA works among Haitian immigrants to the Dominican Republic, who live near the border between the two countries and are provided almost no services by the Dominican government. Funds donated to this organization will help provide for a mobile clinic and health education program, and aid in the effort to establish a permanent presence in the border zone to supply continuous disaster relief and cross-border development projects.
CARE USA: $3,750 In coordination with United Nations peacekeepers, CARE had delivered basic food rations (bulgur, dried peas, oil) to more than 100,000 people, and is working with Action Against Hunger, the Red Cross and Oxfam to provide approximately 40,000 gallons of water a day at 15 water kiosks throughout Gonaives. CAREs immediate future plans in Gonaives include distribution of nonfood items, support to the education and health sectors, and ongoing general water and food distribution that will segue to targeted feeding of the most vulnerable groups.
Church World Service (CWS): $3750 CWS is currently focused on rehabilitating homes, schools, and permanent water systems. It plans to begin supporting agricultural replanting and income generation programs among more than 500 families in the Gonaives region in northern Haiti.
Centro Campesino Farmworker Center: $4,000 Many of the poorest farmworkers in America, along with their families, live in Central Florida, and many have lost their jobs in the citrus industry due to the destruction of crops by the hurricanes. Funds donated to Centro will be spent to help farmworkers whose homes have been damaged by the storms, but who don't qualify for help from government sources and don't have insurance.
Jewish Federation of Lee and CharlotteCounties: $4,000
The Unions donation to the Jewish Federation was made to assist help subvent its relief efforts in the Port Charlotte community.
Temple Beit Ha Yam, Stuart FL; Temple Shalom, Port Charlotte, FL; and Springhill Avenue Temple -- Congregation Sha'arai Shomayim, Mobile, AL: $5,000 each
Each of the above Reform congregations sustained considerable damage to their buildings. In addition, Sha'arai Shomayim's cemetery was devastated by the hurricane. The Union is allocating $5,000 to each of these congregations to assist them in rebuilding.