Georges, the hurricane that wouldn’t go away, is finally in its death throes. Somewhere in the U.S. midsection it’s expending its final wind gusts and dumping the last of its rain. But in the almost two weeks it meandered through the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico it was anything but a benign traveler.
Like marines taking island after island in the Pacific in World War II, Georges struck with a fury along the Antilles island chain. It killed hundreds, left hundreds of thousands more homeless, and caused billions of dollars in damage. Whenever it seemed about to play itself out, it recharged in the warm ocean waters and struck again.
Along the U.S. Gulf Coast, there was time to prepare and evacuate. As a result, there was little loss of life there. Strict codes and good building materials kept damage to a minimum.
The same can’t be said of the islands of the Caribbean. There, the poorer the country, the greater the damage. The poorest of them all — in fact, the poorest in the Western Hemisphere — is Haiti. Life there is a struggle in the best of times. In Port-au-Prince, many thousands of people live packed into slums along the water’s edge. Their homes are small shanties made of plywood and tarpaper. The more affluent among them live behind cinderblock.
Haiti is where the Irish relief agency Concern has been doing its good work for a number years. It has built schools and health clinics and helped people set up small businesses. But its noble aims of empowering the poor and powerless were dealt a severe blow by Georges. Concern’s task now is nothing less than ensuring the survival of those most severely affected by the storm. There is an acute need for food, clothing and shelter. Concern’s resources are being stretched to the limit as it tries to provide these basics.
Concern’s annual holiday appeal is still two months away. But it needs your help now. Write to CONCERN Worldwide, 104 East 40th St., Room 903, New York, NY 10016 or call (212) 557-8000 or 1 (800) 59-CONCERN.
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