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Haiti earthquake relief: Federal Way's World Vision unveils $15 million plan

World Vision president Rich Stearns (second from right) joins a chain of volunteers unloading World Vision donated medical supplies on Jan. 19 to Hope Hospital in Port au Prince, Haiti. The supplies are being used to care for the earthquake victims. - Courtesy of World Vision. Photo by Jon Warren/World Vision
World Vision president Rich Stearns (second from right) joins a chain of volunteers unloading World Vision donated medical supplies on Jan. 19 to Hope Hospital in Port au Prince, Haiti. The supplies are being used to care for the earthquake victims.
— image credit: Courtesy of World Vision. Photo by Jon Warren/World Vision

Federal Way-based World Vision announced Wednesday a $15 million plan to begin rebuilding earthquake-ravished Haiti.

Nearly two weeks after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti's capital of Port-au-Prince, World Vision continues to send emergency relief to distraught and desperate Haitian victims. Meanwhile, the Christian relief, development and advocacy organization is planning a long-term means for recovery.

"We're in a crucial stage now after one week," World Vision spokesman John Yeager said.

Race against time

Rubble from collapsed buildings litters the street, where rescuers frantically try to locate and free victims trapped beneath debris. The landscape is characterized by collapsed buildings, which fell as a result of the violent trembling. Upwards of 200,000 deaths are estimated, according to the Associated Press.

"No one was prepared for an earthquake that would basically topple a third of the buildings in the capital city," said Randy Strash, World Vision strategy director for emergency response.

About 1.5 million Haitians are homeless, according to the AP. Among those affected by the quake were roughly 800 World Vision staff and volunteers living in Haiti, Strash said. About 90 of those were in Port-au-Prince when the disaster struck.

"As far as we know, we didn't lose anyone in the earthquake," he said.

Recovery efforts continue while priorities shift. The capital city is now in dire need of food, clean water and medical supplies, Strash said. Volunteers, rescuers and aid staff realize there is a long road ahead.

90-day plan

World Vision adopted a 90-day, multiple step plan to address the immediate and long-term needs of the displaced Haitians. World Vision will help repair northern parts of the city, he said. Coordination between other aid groups, such as CARE, will bring necessities to other regions of Prince au Paul, he said. World Vision's plan starts with the basics: Food, water, medical supplies and family survival kits, which include a tent, blankets, hygiene items, cooking utensils and water purifying tablets, Strash said.

"Basically, what we have in front of us is (the task of) rebuilding the country," he said.

World Vision aims to assist 100,000 Haitian families during the three months dedicated to carrying out its plan, Strash said. Once recovery efforts slow down, the focus will shift to establishing some sort of normalcy and shelter, he said. World Vision will establish child friendly service areas, similar to daycares. Children without families can stay there until united with extended relatives. The service will also be available to parents who need time to get things back in order, Strash said.

Next will come housing reconstruction. While World Vision works to repair or replace collapsed homes, Haitians will stay in tent cities, then temporary wooden structures, Strash said. These will likely have doors and windows that close and lock. Residents may need to live in the wood homes for up to a year, he said.

Once housing is restored, World Vision will focus on building up businesses and the economy.

"There's an economic shock that follows the disaster," Strash said.

Long-term infrastructure improvements and a complete comeback for the Haitians could take up to five years, he said.

"The immediate burden is huge," Strash said. "The long-term burden is even bigger."

If a well-rounded recovery plan is not enacted, Haiti could be become a lawless country, Strash said.

"Haiti was already in a bad way from the poverty and the four back-to-back hurricanes that it got hit with two years ago," he said.

Donations

World Vision has already raised the money needed to undergo its 90-day plan, Strash said. As of Wednesday, $11 million has come in through online donations. Another $1 million was raised through the call center. Major donations total about $1.7 million and corporate gifts are weighing in at about $500,000, Strash said. Many in-kind donations have also been received, he said.

But more supplies and donations are needed.

Get involved

• Visit www.worldvision.org. to learn more or donate online.

• Call 1-888-56-CHILD to make a phone donation.

• Donate $20 for an individual or $100 for a family survival kit. Donations can be made online.

• Visit or befriend World Vision on social networking sites Facebook and Twitter.

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