FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Monday, September 28, 1998
Peace Corps Volunteers Join Relief Efforts in the Dominican Republic; All Volunteers In the Caribbean Are Safe
Washington, D.C., September 28, 1998—Peace Corps volunteers in the Dominican Republic are helping with relief efforts to help victims from the devastating effects of Hurricane Georges. More than 200 people were killed, hundreds are missing and 100,000 were left homeless when Georges struck the Dominican Republic last week. All 140 Peace Corps volunteers in the Dominican Republic are safe and accounted for, Peace Corps Director Mark Gearan said today.
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. 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.
"Our volunteers work with the community every day, so they know first-hand the devastation wreaked by the hurricane," said Gearan. "They wanted to do whatever they could to help alleviate the heartbreaking suffering."
In all, Hurricane Georges killed more than 300 people throughout the Caribbean, including at least 94 reported in Haiti, five in Cuba, three in St. Kitts and two in Antigua. All 80 Peace Corps volunteers serving in countries hit by the hurricane—Haiti, St. Kitts, Nevis, Antigua and Dominica—are safe and accounted for, Gearan said.
Peace Corps staff members in the Dominican Republic are coordinating with other international and local authorities in identifying areas hardest hit and deploying Peace Corps volunteers to those areas to assist with home reconstruction, as well as building latrines and wells.
The Peace Corps may also send Crisis Corps volunteers to work throughout the country to help with home reconstruction and emergency water and sanitation projects. The Crisis Corps is a special unit within the Peace Corps in which experienced Peace Corps volunteers serve for up to six months to work with non-governmental organizations and other relief and development agencies to provide short-term assistance following natural disasters or during humanitarian crises.
Currently, about 6,500 Peace Corps volunteers are working in 80 countries around the world, including more than 500 volunteers in 11 Caribbean nations, to bring clean water to communities, teach children, protect the environment, help start new businesses, and prevent the spread of AIDS. Since 1961, more than 150,000 Americans have joined the Peace Corps.
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