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West Michigan helps Haiti following 7.2 Earthquake

Organizations in West Michigan gather resources to help earthquake relief efforts in Haiti
Joseph Odelyn/AP
Posted at 10:29 PM, Aug 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-24 22:30:42-04

More than a week after 7-point-2 earth quake hit Les Cayes in Haiti and the death toll is still growing; but help is still pouring in— even from here in West Michigan.

"It is heartbreaking for Haitians….we see disaster after disaster in Haiti," said Joas Occes, Pastor at Grand Rapids West International Church of Nazarene. "A multitude of events."

In the days following the intense quake, the country has seen at least 200 tremors as they try to recover.

Yvens Rumbold, a Michigan State University alum and executive director of Haiti Tomorrow, is in Port-au-Prince raising money to support grass root organizations in helping those directly affected in the southern region.

Rumbold says the government was not prepared for a natural disaster of this scale, after last month's assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.

"They were not able to really work fully to respond to some of the emergencies, because they can't really do well, their job right now," Rumbold said. "We don't think they're gonna be able to do that after an emergency of the scale."

Tropical storm Grace also lashed the area with high winds and rain last Tuesday, increasing the number of those killed and wounded by a few thousand; and slowing access to resources for those trying to survive.

"The biggest needs is to help the hospitals and the health centers in the Affected area,"Rumbold said. "To keep helping the people that are injured recover quickly."

Grand Rapids non-profit Haiti Needs You is collecting donation to help with those efforts. Especially as more obstacles impede transportation of resources to Les Cayes.

"It's not going down with the big elephant foot and, and trying to make an imprint," said Tim Ryan , Executive Director of Haiti Needs You. "It's more like, how can we help you because they really know their situation better than we do."

Ryan's organization works with medical staff in southern Haiti, sending them funding directly.

A large portion of the United State's Haitian population lives in Michigan and the Grand Rapids West International Church of Nazarene has been soliciting donations and served as a safe-space for local Haitians in need of emotional support.

Pastor Occess , speaking directly to Governor Gretchen Whitmer, says the state of Michigan should be prepared to accept Haitians as climate refugees as needed.

"I know the governor can say something in a welcome some Haitians are in difficulties," said Pastor Occess. "We would like to see the governor can take an action Welcome Young Asian to come to study abroad, or help some families one difficult is to come to the hospital, etc"

"Haitian people are resilient…they are shining people when you get to Haiti it's like family."

If you'd like to donate to any of the local organizations helping Haiti recover, you can find those links below:

Haiti Needs You
Haiti Tomorrow
West International Church of Nazarene

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