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Mormon church provided $4.25M in Haiti relief

SALT LAKE CITY — In the first month following Haiti's devastating Jan. 12 earthquake, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provided an estimated $4.25 million in assistance, with plans for ongoing relief and recovery support for the ravaged Caribbean nation.

Relief efforts have included providing food, relief supplies, shelters for displaced Haitians and medical teams to treat the injured and ailing.

Recent fatality estimates are between 170,000 and 230,000, with many times more left homeless and destitute from the magnitude 7.0 quake.

To date, the LDS Church has shipped 28 truckloads of relief supplies — including nine air shipments — to Haiti.

Food and relief supplies included 208,834 pounds of food, 16,070 water-filtration bottles, 12,840 hygiene kits, 11,760 blankets, 4,000 first-aid kits, 2,304 newborn kits, 1,696 tents, 1,319 tarps, 600 quilts and 25 medical supply modules.

Other items range from gas-powered cooking stoves to mattresses.

Additionally, five truckloads of food and relief supplies were driven across the island from the church's Caribbean area facilities in the neighboring Dominican Republic, while local church leaders were authorized to use fast-offering funds to purchase food and water in the first days immediately after the quake.

Nine of the Port-au-Prince LDS meetinghouses have been used as emergency shelters, with up to 9,000 people total — not just LDS Church members — seeking assistance or staying on the meetinghouse grounds.

These shelters have been supported with daily deliveries of food and supplies, brought in from a secured warehouse on the outskirts of the Haitian capital.

In addition to servicing its own temporary shelters, the LDS Church has provided food, relief and some cash assistance to a number of nongovernmental organizations, including CARE, Food for the Poor, Red Cross, International Relief and Development, Islamic Relief and Healing Hands for Haiti. Local church leaders also have provided additional assistance to Haitian charitable organizations.

The church has sent several first-response medical teams, totaling 17 doctors and three nurses, with specialties including trauma, orthopedics, family practice, emergency room and critical care.

Working both at the temporary shelters as well as local hospitals and clinics, the medical teams have treated more than 1,000 patients. The church also has provided a limited amount of medical supplies and equipment to local clinics and hospitals.

Two mental health counselors also assisted at the shelters.

Additional medical and mental-health professionals have since gone to Haiti to continue the assisting and assessing needs.

The LDS Church will continue to assess and coordinate its efforts with other nongovernmental organizations and relief agencies, according to its welfare and humanitarian leaders.

Those efforts likely will include assisting in reconstruction of hospitals and schools; participating in water, agricultural and mobility projects; and providing continued support to temporary settlements.

Medical professionals may help in rotations in various locations — at clinics and hospitals, at the shelters and offshore in the medical Navy ships, the USNS Comfort and USNS Mercy.

e-mail: taylor@desnews.com