One of the chief volunteer coordinators for the American Red Cross’ efforts in Haiti is in Iowa this week, thanking Iowans for all they’ve done to help rebuild the island nation after the devastating earthquake just over a year ago. Winnie Romeril says she’s constantly amazed by people’s generosity in the wake of disasters.
“I came to Iowa to talk about Haiti in the one-year commemoration time frame,” Romeril says. “The chapter here raised so much money. Here, in the state of Iowa, there was over $4-million raised for the Haiti relief effort. They wanted me to come and tell people what we’ve done with that money.”
Romeril says the Red Cross is still very active in Haiti after the January 12th, 2010, quake which killed perhaps 316-thousand people, injured another 300-thousand, and left more than a million people homeless. Tens of thousands of homes and buildings collapsed. One of the primary efforts now, Romeril says, is providing shelter materials to Haitians.
“So far, that’s been tarps and building materials so they can repair houses where that’s possible,” Romeril says. “We’ve been building transitional shelters which are storm-resistant and earthquake-resistant. This is until land issues can be sorted out and rubble can be removed so that people can build permanent homes.”
The Red Cross is also providing fresh drinking water to more than a quarter-million people in Haiti every day, while stepping up its medical service, especially after the cholera outbreak. Romeril says it’s heartwarming to see that in Iowa, a state of three-million people, more than four-million dollars could be quickly raised, for Iowans to reach out and support people they don’t know.
“People say to themselves, ‘That could happen to us,'” Romeril says. “Iowans have been affected by catastrophic disasters. You’ve have floods here and there’s single-family housefires every day in this area. People understand what disaster is and they understand how disruptive it is to people’s lives. Americans are generous and they want to help and I think it’s great that Iowans stepped up.”
The effort to rebuild Haiti is far from over, and Romeril encourages people to continue giving and following the progress at “www.redcross.org“.