Canadians Helping Haiti – Earthquake Disaster Relief

from Google earth - by rickall

Disaster relief and emergency service organizations worldwide are mobilizing worldwide to provide help to earthquake stricken Haiti. Donations are sorely needed. It has been reported that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have already donated $1 million dollars to support Doctors Without Borders.

There are many appeals for public donations. Here at MissionLog I recommend you direct your donations to registered charities with proven disaster relief capacities AND personnel “on the ground” in Haiti backed by immediate mobilization plans to put more front line emergency service workers and volunteers as well as deliver critical supplies and food immediately.

In Canada, donate to:

The Salvation Army at http://salvationarmy.ca/
The Red Cross at http://redcross.ca
World Vision at http://worldvision.ca
Mennonite Central Committee at http://mcc.org

Although I have no immediate plans to a Project417 relief team, I’ll be supporting our partners at the Salvation Army Canada and the Canadian Red Cross.  Also check back to the blog here, once immediate relief efforts are no longer needed the emphasis will switch to rebuilding and reconstruction for many years. Haiti is still recovering from severe hurricane devastation over the last two years and now the need for both short and long term volunteer missions to rebuild communities will intensify. With experience following both Hurricanes Katrina, Gustav and Ike, I’ll be looking for the most effective way to put together a volunteer team. Join me.

News from Geneva – (ICRC) –

The International Committee of the Red Cross has set up a special website to help thousands of people within Haiti and abroad who have lost contact with their loved ones. Haitians as well as family members around the world can log on to register a missing loved one at http://www.icrc.org/familylinks

or this short link at http://bit.ly/8B4sBA

Together caring and giving Canadians and friends worldwide can make a real difference to our suffering neighbors in Haiti.

Thanks ~ Andy ( follow @canayjun on Twitter)
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Winnipeg flood officials increase estimate of homes at risk

Red River Flood Watch: April 1, 2009

Winnipeg, Manitoba – Fargo, North Dakota

In North Dakota, the risk of flooding from the cresting Red River is not over, but flood fears have eased with the levels at 11.5 meters being below the permanent floodwall level.

However in Manitoba, in the midst of a severe spring snowstorm, the risk of flooding has been escalated by local officials. According to news reports [cbc.ca] the number of homes in Winnipeg at risk of flooding from the rising Red River has been increased from 80 to 140 homes, with residents being urged to add at least a foot of sandbag to existing floodwalls.

Winnipeg flood officials increase estimate of homes at risk

The threat posed by the spreading ice jams is severe, with at least four locations in the city limits identified as possible ice jam locations. North of Winnipeg, the current snowstorm is hampering flood protection efforts as ice jams increase and the areas subject to flooding as a result have been expanded. Selkirk is still under a declared state of emergency in expectation of extensive flooding due to the ice jams.

The river is now expected to crest on Sunday, April 6th.

Other online flood watch resources –

Winnipeg EmergWeb –
Winnipeg crews continue working to respond to rising river levels and prepare for possible ice jams.

Manitoba EMO – Emergency Measures organization –  The Salvation Army is providing meals and refreshments to people working on the flood-fighting efforts north of Winnipeg and in Winnipeg.

Canada News – Spring storm hindering flood protection efforts north of Winnipeg

CBC Manitoba Flood Watch – ice cutting machine plunges through river ice north of Winnipeg

Project417 coordinators will meet tomorrow with Salvation Army EDS manager to determine volunteer deployment possibility. More updates soon…

Flood Update: N.Dakota alerts eased, while Manitoba ice jams spark emergency status

Red River Flood Update – March 31,2009 – North Dakota – Manitoba

Colder weather and falling snow have actuallly eased flood conditions in much of North Dakota, with many Fargo area neighborhoods lifting evacuation orders Tuesday afternoon, March 31, 2009.

Flooding in North Dakota

Flooding in North Dakota

However, the town of Selkirk, north-east of Winnipeg and at least one other town have declared emergency conditions due to increasing ice jams on the Red River. The ice jams themselves make it difficult to predict the possibility of flooding, but many neighborhoods are sandbagging, with some being told to evacuate by authorities.

The Winnipeg spillway – built in the 60’s to divert flood waters from the river, can not be opened to ease flood waters until the risk of ice jams abates. Any sheet ice, or jams entering the spillway risks more ice jams at bridge crossings and higher flood waters within Winnipeg itself.

Volunteer Update –

The CBC published today that there are increasing reports of volunteer and emergency personnel exhaustion in towns north of Winnipeg where the ice jams are widespread. There were appeals for food to fuel the small army of residents, volunteers and front-line workers primarily involved in sandbagging around properties threatened by the ice and rising waters.

Project417 has organized several volunteer teams in the past few years to respond to disaster scenes such as Hurricanes Katrina  in 2005, Ike last fall of 2008, and most recently two large evacuations in Toronto following apartment building explosions. Additionally,  as a community development coordinator  with Project417, I took part in Ontario’s Trillium emergency exercise last November in Thunder bay, along with more than 1,500 other emergency response personnel.

For first response situations, Project417 partners exclusively with the Salvation Army Emergency and Disaster Services (EDS), headquartered in Toronto. The process in preparing to respond involves staying updated on breaking news, and reporting availability to our EDS contact. As in the current crisis in Manitoba – local and then provincial resources are called in and assigned – with local emergency response personnel, often local fire departments, designated as local command and control centres and relay requests to the media for volunteers and materials that can be quickly deployed from surrounding areas. In addition, The Manitoba Emergency Management organization (EMO) is mobilized in declared states of emergency, and have in this case also requested the federal government to deploy and make ready on stand-by Canadian Armed Forces personnel.

If the local emergency or disaster situation escalates – as may be the case this week north of Winnipeg – those organizations may begin requesting assistance from neighbouring cities and provinces across Canada. Project417 has forwarded the CBC news reports of volunteers facing exhaustion to our EDS contact to ascertain whether mobilization should be escalated. Our role normally is helping man the mobile canteens, capable of serving hot meals, nutritious snacks, coffee, hot chocolate, juices, soft drinks and water – to as many as 1,500 or more per day per canteen. So right now we are ready and just waiting for the call. It would take at least 1 1/2 – 2 days to drive the vehicles out depending on road conditions. More updates will be posted here soon and  at project417.com.

North Dakota and Minnesota Red River - photo nasa.gov

North Dakota and Minnesota Red River - photo nasa.gov

More updates and sources –

Fargo Inforum – Evacuation orders lifted in some neighborhoods

Selkirk declares state of emergency

Manitoba communities plead for volunteers and food

CBC Manitoba Flood Watch 2009

Winnipeg Free Press Flood Watch

Winnipeg Free Press Breaking News

Flooding Update – North Dakota, Minnesota, Manitoba

Saturday Mar. 28th, 2009  Updates Red River Flooding

Lockport bridge, n. of Winnepeg, by Amanda Medwid

Lockport Bridge, north of Winnipeg, by Amanda Medwid

We’re concerned about the possibilities of more evacuations for our neighbors in North Dakota and Minnesota and watching updates for the flood conditions in the Winnipeg, Manitoba areas of the Red River basin – hit by the worst flood levels in many years. Project417 is on alert to be notified of volunteer requirments by the Canadian Salvation Army Emergency and Disaster Services.

North Dakota and the Fargo area are the worst hit so far, but colder weather has slowed the river’s rise with cresting expected Sunday March 29th. It is the widespead ice jams on the Red River and many others including the Missouri River and other tributaries causing the worst flooding. Volunteers throughout the area are tirelessly sandbagging to fight the rising waters. President Barack Obama has officially declared the area a disaster zone. Review the following links for news updates.

North Dakota declared disaster zone amid flooding

Manitoba Rouseau River First Nation flood evacuation

North Dakota Braces for record flood waters

Cold temperature  slowing rise of Red River, North Dakota, Minnesota

Canadian Military on standby to battle Manitoba flooding

From the archives – Red River Rising: Manitoba Flood history

FLOOD liaison office – Manitoba red River valley:

200 Saulteaux Cres. in Winnipeg: 204-945-2354
available to provide information to residents of the Red River Valley, including details on existing flood protection levels, current forecasted flood levels and the status of community ring-dike closures. The offices will be open daily from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. until the current flood risk is over.

I’ll be posting more updates as they come in and ways people can help those affected by the floods and evacuations.

Ontario Stages Largest Ever Emergency Exercise

Andy Heads to Thunder Bay with Emergency Disaster Services Team

Before heading back to Texas with a small Project417 team to help with the Hurricane Ike recovery in San Leon, Galveston County, I have one stop to make – Thunder Bay in Northern Ontario. It’s almost as far north from Toronto as Texas is south. I’ll be driving one of the vans for the Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services response team, including several members who also were in Texas last month. It should prove to be a challenging test of our disaster preparedness. Disaster teams helping with the exercise will include the Canadian Armed Forces, O.P.P., local police and fire-fighters, Red Cross, St. Johns Ambulance, Salvation Army, etc. We’ll be staying at the local armoury and primarily involved in food preparation and distribution to both emergency responders and the mock disaster victims. We leave Monday early for a 15 hour drive and return the next Monday, Nov. 24th.  See you then…with more photos. Here’s the news release.

TORONTO, Nov. 10 /CNW/ – NEWS
Ontario will test its ability to respond to a disaster by participating in the largest emergency response exercise held in recent history. Exercise Trillium Response will involve all levels of government and will
simulate a massive ice storm in the northwestern area of the province, similar in scope to the one that devastated eastern Ontario and Québec in 1998. The exercise will take place in Thunder Bay and area between November 17 and 23. More than 1,500 participants from the Ontario and Canadian government,
25 municipalities and three First Nations communities, the province of Manitoba and non-government organizations, will participate. A fleet of specialized equipment and tactical teams will be deployed…

more

Thousands a day seeking meals from Salvation Army in Galveston County

Galveston County Daily News, Oct. 6, 2008 GALVESTON: Tracy Czajkowski, a captain in the Salvation Army, said she and other volunteers from across the country hope to be the “shock absorbers” for Galveston residents who lost everything during the storm. Relief workers and volunteers, have gone from one disaster zone to another. At each place, workers have been greeted by people clinging to the end of their rope. [ end of excerpt ]

Andy and Karyl on the canteen

Andy and Karyl on the canteen

Over on the mainland in Galveston County, I am serving meals in devastated San Leon, Texas. The Pasadena Command of the Salvation Army is now focusing its mobile canteen service on the southern areas of the coastal area hit by Hurricane Ike. San Leon has had two canteens assigned for a total of over two thousand people served hot meals each day, and each day the food often runs out prompting the Emotional and Spiritual Care teams to call for even more support. The main mobile kitchen in Seabrook, staffed by Southern Baptist volunteers, that cook all the meals for the canteens prepare about 6,500 meals a day. Our canteen travels there twice a day to pick up the food and restock with water, ice, Gator Aid and snacks. It’s expected that mobile kitchen will re-locate south across the causeway into the coastal town of Kemah, more central to our relief efforts now that life is becoming more normalized in Houston County.

Today will be my last day onsite of the trip, but I look forward to returning soon to help the folks in San Leon and Galveston. I’ve given thought to changing the New Orleans short term mission in November to Galveston County and the people of San Leon. They all need help gutting out flood ravaged homes. Many are being bulldozed due to structural damage and will have to be rebuilt from scratch. Thanks for all your support and consider donating to help the poor people who have no homes and little that we all take for granted.
~~~
Andy Coats

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San Leon Hurricane Ike Survivors Glad to See Disaster Relief Workers

More updates on the mission log here.

UPDATE: Saturday, October 4th, 2008 –

I have been serving the residents of San Leon, Texas now all this week. We visit for several hours twice daily in one of the Salvation Army Mobile canteen trucks to serve fresh hot meals for lunch and dinner. We have averaged about 1,00 meals a day at the San Leon Community Disaster Relief Center at the site of a small Baptist church, along with Houston Food bank, the American Baptist Association and  local volunteers. Total meals served from our command center are over 6,500 a day all from mobile canteen crews like ours. Total for all the Louisiana and Texas disaster incident commands are more than 1.2 Million hot meals since relief efforst began a month ago, first for Gustav, then Ike.

The devastation of San Leon, just up the coast from Galveston, is equal or more severe than what I witnessed in New Orleans after Katrina in the Lower 9th Ward. There are thousands of residents whose homes were completely submerged by the 12 to 20 foot storm surge and battered by Hurricane Ikes category two winds. Even now, electrical power service has not been restored. There is no ice, clean water, local sources of food (the nearest supermarket open is more than 20km). Entire home contents have been lost. Most homes in San Leon were small and simple, many were trailer homes and wood frame houses. Lives have been lost. We pray for them all.for The majority of residents in San Leon are Vietnamese America, and Hispanic. Most don’t have insurance and no FEMA cash support has been received yet.  Many families with young children are sleeping in their cars outside their gutted homes. Some were homeless and living rough before the storm and now are severely at risk having lost even their open air campsites and squats and what few belongings they had.

These photos from Sanleontexas.com (maintained by a colourful local resident) are only a few showing both the destruction and the will to survive and overcome. I’ll be posting many more of mine when I have a more reliable internet connection showing the volunteers and residents working together.

These people really need your help, consider  making a generous donation today. Contact me here by submitting a comment to the post if you have any questions.

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