Central Florida nonprofit in Haiti helping with earthquake relief

Air Mobile Ministries aiding search and rescue efforts

ORLANDO, Fla. – Relief efforts continue to arrive in Haiti after a devastating earthquake hit the southern peninsula.

The U.S. Aid Disaster Response team and Bureau of Humanitarian Affairs said 65 search and rescue members are on the ground and the U.S. Coast guard has evacuated 41 critical patients.

Florida nonprofits are also lending a helping hand. Air Mobile Ministries is on the impoverished island to assist the victims.

“When the word came an earthquake had hit Haiti, I just went into full mobilization--just dropped everything and began running, literally,” said Joe Hurston, founder of the nonprofit based in Florida. “The earthquake is just the beginning of what these people are dealing with. Right now, they’re dealing with major flooding and mudslides in addition to the earthquake.”

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Hurston flew into Port-Au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, two days after the earthquake.

“We had to really pick our way around Tropical Storm Grace which is causing major problem’s in Haiti right now with flooding, mudslides--it’s horrible,” he said.

Hurston has been going into natural disaster zones for more than four decades to help bring food, medical supplies and clothing to affected areas. Now in Haiti, he said he can’t disclose the exact town he’s going into for security reasons but did share what he’ll be doing the next few days.

“We’re going to the worst-hit area and right now. The weather is still quite bad so, there’s not a lot that we can do except to lay the logistical groundwork for the work that’s gonna be coming,” he said. “I can tell you this, one group has got a barge with 3,100-pound bags of rice on it and that’s why I’m flying right now to those towns to coordinate the arrival of that.”

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He says 23 years ago, he shifted the organization’s mission to deploying safe drinking water to those in need through the Air Mobile Rescuer purification system the organization helped develop. Currently, 10 units were brought to Haiti, which Hurston said could provide clean water to about 10,000 people.

“Clean water is non-negotiable. If you don’t get--we’re not getting clean water where it’s needed within 3 days, we’re having major problems and cholera, typhoid -- we’ve seen it all,” he said.

To make a donation to Air Mobile Minsitries, visit: https://airmobile.org/

About the Author:

Carolina Cardona highlights all Central Florida has to offer in her stories on News 6 at Nine. She joined News 6 in June 2018 from the Telemundo station in Philadelphia.