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Water, food situation in Haiti growing critical, ADRA workers say

Church regions donate money for aid, rebuilding

Water, food situation in Haiti growing critical, ADRA workers say

Photo taken from the ADRA convoy while traveling through the hardest hit areas of Port-au-Prince on route to the ADRA Haiti office. [photo: Matt Herzel/ADRA]

A week after an earthquake leveled Haiti's capital of Port-au-Prince, both aid workers and survivors are struggling -- the first to quickly distribute food and clean water and the other to get their share of emergency supplies.

Only 50 percent of Haiti's population has access to clean water under normal circumstances, but that percentage has drastically decreased since the earthquake, Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) workers reported.

"Water is at a premium," said Raymond Chevalier, an ADRA employee currently helping to coordinate relief work in Haiti. "In the following days, we expect civil unrest to grow -- especially in some of the overcrowded areas where people have sought shelter -- unless an abundant supply of water and other forms of aid are quickly made available to them."

Global Medic, an emergency response team working with ADRA in Haiti, will distribute over 2 million water purification tablets in the next few days. The group's doctor and paramedics are providing assistance to the injured, performing amputations and other emergency procedures.

The group plans to set up an inflatable field hospital that will stay in place indefinitely.

Global Medic is also setting up a water purification system at the Adventist hospital for refugees and patients camped on the grounds.

Lesly Archer, a doctor at the hospital, said the staff is in dire need of basic medical supplies, including IVs, gauze and antibiotics. The once 70-bed hospital is currently home to 400 patients, with more arriving every day, said Matt Herzel, an ADRA employee currently in Haiti.

The hospital building itself is now in use again and volunteers from Loma Linda University are using the building as a base of operations, hospital volunteers reported.

A Loma Linda University medical team, as well as physicians from the Caribbean island of Martinique, is scheduled to arrive early this week to aid the understaffed and overworked doctors, said Elie Honore, health ministries director for the church in Inter-America. Honore, a physician, is coordinating Adventist medical teams going into Haiti.

Leaders for the Adventist Church in Inter-America said the death toll among church members is still uncertain. The church leaders, currently in Port-au-Prince, are helping search for the missing people as well as coordinating relief funding.

So far, five of the Adventist Church's 13 world regions have promised $125,000 toward church rebuilding and assistance. Adventist world church administration has promised $200,000 to go directly to "organizational needs," said Juan Prestol, undertreasurer for the world church.

"This is in addition to the money our churches are donating to general relief efforts," Prestol said.

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- Additional reporting by Nadia McGill and Libna Stevens