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Haitian relief worker in Jamaica pleads for Haiti

Published:Sunday | October 9, 2016 | 10:00 AMCorey Robinson
Lieutenant Leandre Roliams (right) and his wife Lieutenant Shadene with blankets ready to hand out to persons in the Salvation Army shelter in Port Antonio, Portland last week.

He now calls Jamaica home, but Lieut Leandre Roliams' heart remains in Haiti, the land of his birth.

Last week, Roliams was leading the Salvation Army's efforts at shelters in Portland as Hurricane Matthew took aim at Jamaica.

While Jamaica was spared Matthew's wrath, Haiti was not that lucky, with more than 900 persons feared dead up to yesterday.

Now Roliams is turning his attention to his homeland and he is urging Haitian authorities, and the region, to focus on providing quick responses for the thousands being housed in shelters in that country.

"The main priority for the authorities now is to get food supply quickly as a short-term response to the people. They need water and they need food items because there have been over 10,000 people sheltered," Roliams told The Sunday Gleaner.

 

Increasing death toll

 

Matthew left a trail of death and destruction across the country, especially in Grand-Anse, located at the northern tip of the peninsula, and the death toll is expected to rise as the authorities and aid workers continue to make their way into the hard-hit areas.

Several homes, buildings and properties were destroyed, and up to yesterday there were reports of persons desperately in search of clean water, clinging to the few belongings they could salvage from their destroyed homes.

"They have to make sure that they are OK. They need toiletries. Now they are not in the rebuilding process, they are in quick response to deal with the problem," Roliams stated, arguing that food and health resources are more needed than financial assistance at the moment.

Roliams and his wife have been living in Jamaica for many years, but said he is concerned for relatives back home, even though their community was not among the hardest hit by the storm.

"My relatives are located in the west of Haiti. They are not so much affected really, just minor damage," he told The Sunday Gleaner, adding that the Salvation Army has been very active in Haiti and that its Jamaican arm will render whatever assistance it can to the country.

Before it hit Haiti, Hurricane Matthew claimed four lives in the Dominican Republic, one in Colombia and one in St Vincent and the Grenadines. The hurricane also devastated sections of Cuba and Bahamas before it wreaked havoc on the United States East Coast.

corey.robinson@gleanerjm.com