October 5th, 2009 5:33 pm | by Sasha Ingber News | Posted In: CLEAN UP

How You Can Help Victims of Recent Quakes and Tsunamis


Local relief agencies have been quick to address the recent round of natural disasters that killed hundreds and left countless others injured and homeless.

Mercy Corps has been positioned for five years in Padang, a city of 900,000 in Sumatra closely located to the epicenter of the 7.6 magnitude earthquake. And the Portland-based relief agency immediately sent global emergency specialists to the site. By tomorrow, Mercy Corps hopes to have distributed supplies, including kits for construction and cleaning, water filtration systems, food and blankets. In light of nearly 180,000 destroyed homes, “Mercy Corps is going to be taking a lead role in addressing shelters,” says spokeswoman Caitlin Carlson.

“We prefer to move into recovery and rebuilding quickly. From our experiences in previous disasters, we find that is what really helps these communities get back on track,” says Carlson. After the initial clean-up concludes, Mercy Corps will provide microfinance support, nicknamed “cash-for-work,” to grow business and rebuild communities. If you want to help, here's how.

In the Samoan Islands, the tsunami generated by the 8.0 earthquake Sept. 30 killed at least 150 people and devastated dozens of coastal villages. Mercy Corps is waiting for emergency responder Carol Ward to assess what supplies should be sent. It is also raising funds and partnering with South Pacific Business Development, a local microfinance agency, to advise microfinance programs in a disaster scenario.

Medical Teams International, another Portland-based agency, is sending funds and relief supplies to affected Samoan churches in the days ahead. MTI officials are also channeling funding to their partner Tear Fund in New Zealand.

In Indonesia, they are organizing release supplies that focus on medical health, particularly to help fight waterborne diseases. “It depends on what the need is. We will wait to hear from people in field,” says spokeswoman Marlene Minor. A doctor and nurse are waiting for permission from the Indonesian government to enter a clinic outside of Padang.

Medical Teams International is also providing support to the Philippines, where Typhoon Ketsana saturated the region with twice the amount of rain as Hurricane Katrina. It has left 500,000 people homeless, and 250 dead. “We are currently organizing two health kits each valued at $450,000 to be shipped from Holland into the Philippines,” says Minor. This will aid 20,000 people for next three months, and medical teams are on standby. Another typhoon may hit the same area on Saturday.

The good news? “There has been outpouring of people giving online or by phone,” says Minor. If you want to help MTI's efforts, here's how.
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