Situation improving in Haiti as MAF continues to provide aid

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti-09-29-08-MAF continues to bring relief to those who lost their homes and possessions, following four storms that created widespread damage in Haiti.

MAF has delivered more than four tons of beans, rice and oil to the village of Anse Rouge, as roads slowly begin to open. But some areas are still without food, reported Will White, MAF pilot. The food that is getting through is used up quickly, he said.

United Nations World Food Programme said it would not release food to MAF staff unless U.N. personnel were on the ground, so MAF decided to buy food for the hospital in Passe Catabois. Christian Aid Ministries (CAM) donated 1,300 pounds of food boxes for the hospital. Since the current crisis began, CAM has donated more than two tons of food and water for distribution by MAF.

Missionaries in Cazales sent an email to MAF personnel in Haiti saying the U.S. Coast Guard had delivered corn, flour, oil and water, and more was coming the next day. MAF was instrumental in connecting the American missionaries and Coast Guard personnel to make the flight possible.

"We are so happy and encouraged! God takes care of his kids," the email read.

White said the bulk of the U.S. and U.N. food flights are slowing down, so food shortages will be a problem in the long run. Gardens and rice fields were destroyed in the flooding, he said. People in the countryside will have neither food nor money to purchase food in town.

Earlier last week, MAF learned the road from Port-au-Prince to the Central Plateau is open. MAF pilot John Munsell reported that the road from Anse Rouge to Gonaives has several impassable sections, but traffic is slowly starting to get around the damaged areas.

After Tropical Depressions Fay and Gustav and Tropical Storm Hanna struck, Hurricane Ike hit, dumping more rain on already flooded and soaked land.

Even before Ike arrived, MAF pilots estimated the damage to be greater than that caused by Hurricane Jeanne in 2004.

MAF operates several airstrips in Haiti. The organization's airstrip in Gonaives, located 170 kilometers north of Port-au-Prince, initially lay under some eight feet of water. The remaining MAF airstrips in the area were reported to be operational, albeit muddy.

"The greatest threat is from waterborne diseases. Infants and the elderly are most susceptible," White said.

"MAF is focusing on how we can serve our missionaries with access to airstrips," White said.

Aviation gas (avgas) is readily available, but its rising costs ($6 a gallon) continues to be an issue. Each plane consumes 18 gallons an hour, so funding is needed in this emergency situation, White said.

MAF is seeking prayers for the victims, as well as for the missionaries who are ministering to the unchurched for whom they are providing aid.

"To show the love of Christ to those we help is an amazing opportunity," White said.