International Aid ships $7.5 million in Katrina relief

  • Agency assuming leadership of government distribution facility at Stennis International Airport
  • Focus shifts to medical needs, long-term redevelopment: Demand for food products diminishes

SPRING LAKE, Mich., Sept. 14, 2005 -- International Aid announced today that it has now shipped relief supplies valued at more than $7.5 million to victims of Hurricane Katrina. The agency's effort has involved sending more than 60 semi-truck loads and organizing numerous flights from Michigan to the Gulf Coast region.

To date, these products have consisted of urgently needed water, non-perishable food items, hygiene products, medicines, medical supplies, medical equipment and generators.

The supplies have been distributed primarily through International Aid's church partners in more than fifty locations across the entire disaster-stricken region.

"From the first days after Katrina struck, our hub facility in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, has served as the focal point of our operations, enabling us to ship product from places like McComb, Mississippi to Pasagoula, Mississippi, to New Orleans, and to Homa, Louisiana", said Rev. Myles D. Fish, International Aid President and CEO.

As electricity has been restored in much of the non-coastal region, International Aid has narrowed its focus to the hard-hit coastal areas of Biloxi, Gulfport, Pass Christian and Bay St. Louis and Hancock County.

Based on its assessment of the evolving situation on the ground, International Aid is in the process of moving its distribution operations from Hattiesburg to Stennis International airport in Hancock County, Miss. "The county has been receiving large quantities of food aid, but has had limited means to sort and distribute the aid," explained Fish. "This presents the opportunity for International Aid to assume control of the operation of their center, and using our staff and trucks, quickly distribute the supplies to where they are needed most".

In addition to this shift in logistical strategy, as the need for food aid diminishes, International Aid is shifting its focus to addressing the longer-term medical and redevelopment needs of the coastal communities. As part of this effort, the agency is seeking financial support to help meet these needs.

"We are grateful for all of those who have been collecting food aid," said Fish, "and we will continue to distribute the food now being collected, as it is still needed in many outlying areas. Now, however, International Aid will focus our longer-term efforts on meeting the medical and redevelopment needs of people across the Gulf region."

Fish has recently returned from the region and is available as an interview source for media interested in International Aid's relief effort and the agency's firsthand perspective on the changing conditions in the hurricane-devastated region.