Peace Corps Director Gearan Visits Volunteers in Dominican Republic and Haiti to Support Relief Efforts
September 30, 1998Washington, D.C., September 30, 1998—Peace Corps Director Mark Gearan arrived today in the Dominican Republic, where Peace Corps Volunteers are coordinating relief efforts to help victims of Hurricane Georges. Gearan travelled to the Dominican Republic and Haiti as part of a presidential delegation that includes several Clinton administration officials and members of Congress.
"Our Volunteers live and work in their Dominican and Haitian communities every day, so they know first-hand the devastation that Hurricane Georges has caused," said Gearan. "I am immensely proud of the quick response and generous assistance our Volunteers have offered their friends and colleagues."
To help with disaster relief, some Peace Corps volunteers in the Dominican Republic are loading private planes with bags of food and water to be dropped into villages isolated by flooding from the storm. The airdrops were organized by Natalie Woodward, Peace Corps' Country Director in the Dominican Republic, who chartered a small plane earlier this week.
Other volunteers are digging emergency latrines for 10 emergency shelters in and around the capital city of Santo Domingo and in the barrios nearby; they are also talking with people in the shelters and barrios to inform them about using potable water in the aftermath of the hurricane.
In Haiti, volunteers are helping clean up communities hard hit by the hurricane, and are coordinating with other international and local authorities in identifying other areas where Peace Corps volunteers could offer assistance.
In all, Hurricane Georges has killed more than 370 people throughout the Caribbean, including more than 200 in the Dominican Republic, at least 94 reported in Haiti, five in Cuba, three in St. Kitts and two in Antigua. All 220 Peace Corps volunteers serving in countries hit by the hurricane—Dominican Republic, Haiti, St. Kitts, Nevis, Antigua and Dominica—are safe and accounted for, Gearan said.
The delegation included Defense Secretary William Cohen, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo and other officials, as well as a dozen members of Congress, led by Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., whose district includes the nation's largest Puerto Rican constituency and the largest Dominican constituency. Other members of Congress included Reps. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I.; Jim McDermott, D-Wash.; George Miller, D-Calif.; William Pascrell, D-N.J.; and Donald Payne, D-N.J., as well as Democratic delegates Carlos Romero-Barcelo of Puerto Rico and Donna Christian-Green of the Virgin Islands.