What is needed
The following items are needed: canned goods, cereals, rice, bottled water, paper products, baby wipes, toothpaste/brushes, ssap, disinfectants, rope, tarps, mops, brooms, buckets, hammers, screwdrivers, pliers, shovels, saws, drills, gloves, flash lights, lanterns, batteries, generators, chain saws, tents, sleeping bags and towels.
Local resident Clay Sikes, owner of the Sikes Group, said he’s been to Haiti roughly 14 times. However, it was his two visits to Washington, D.C., regarding Fort Stewart’s canceled fifth brigade that allowed Sikes and others from Liberty County to make the connections they are now relying on to help the island nation.
“Ironically, our efforts in Washington over the Fort Stewart issue put us in touch with a lot of different people at a lot of different levels, including the White House,” Sikes said.
Sikes has been involved with a missionary group called Haiti Outreach for 20 years. The group, which is comprised of area residents who volunteer their time, money and gifts to orphanages in Haiti, was created by local resident Dickie Welch, who Sikes said has been to Haiti more than anyone he knows.
Sikes said during one of his visits to the White House, he became acquainted with the director of the Office of Political Affairs for the Obama administration, Patrick Gaspard.
Gaspard comes from a Haitian family and Sikes said they’ve discussed their mutual love of the island on several occasions through e-mails and phone conversations.
“JCB, very generously wanted to contribute some much needed equipment,” Sikes said. “These are the types of equipment that remove the debris from the streets which is still desperately needed.”
Hurt, Norton and Associates, Inc., a lobbying firm in Washington that represents Sikes in his Fort Stewart efforts, also represents JCB Worldwide in Savannah. Sikes said the connections made between the lobbying firm and his friendship with Gaspard led to arrangements in transporting the equipment on a ship to Haiti last weekend.
Those same ties came in handy again after Sikes said he received word about a technology company in Florida called Inretti Technologies, Inc., which created the water system for the town of Carrefour, just outside of Port-Au-Prince. They had an engineer in Haiti during the earthquake.
The engineer, Lee Moore, sent word to the mainland describing the quake’s aftermath in the small town. “Just to punctuate how bad it is, the college campus in Carrefour has a two-acre lawn area between the buildings. It’s idyllic with tropical flowers and a slow, meandering stream running through it. Today, there are over 10,000 people camped there. The bodies of the dead are evident wherever you look. And the stream is completely fouled with the blood and sewage from a camp that is a death trap. Next door is one of Haiti’s best hospitals. It is dark today. No power, no medicine, no water.”
Moore analyzed the damage to the water system and Sikes said they are working on to get the necessary items and manpower to Carrefour to make repairs.
“They think they can get the water system back up and running within three to four days,” he said. “This would restore water or at least restore the system in key areas to bring water back into Carrefour.”
Several local residents and area relief agencies have also stepped up efforts, collecting monetary donations and items to send to Haiti.
According to Denese Register, spokesperson for the Savannah Chapter of the American Red Cross, many people from Hinesville called in Friday afternoon during a telethon aired on WTOC and pledged money. Register said the best way to help
is by donating to American Red Cross International Response Fund at www.redcross.org.
Red Cross phone lines are open at 1-800-RED-CROSS. Donations also can be made via cell phone by texting the word Haiti to 90999. A $10 donation will be sent to the Red Cross and the sum is automatically added to the customer’s next cell phone statement.
“The best thing for our community to do is to continue to donate funds to assist with the relief effort,” Red Cross Liberty Branch Manager Mark Hunt said.
United Way of the Coastal Empire Liberty Branch Executive Director Leah Poole said a program called Savannah Responds has activated its disaster response mission and is collecting items.
Savannah Responds has a designated drop-off location in a vacant lot at the northeast corner of Mall Boulevard and Abercorn Street in Savannah. Donated goods will be accepted daily from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. until Jan 30. For more information, call (912) 233-2876
“If anyone wants to participate in the relief efforts locally through United Way, we will transport the items to Savannah from our office,” Poole said.
The United Way office in Liberty County is at 135 E MLK Jr. Drive. For more information, call 368-4282.