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Congresswoman Waters Calls for $300 Million in Disaster Assistance for Haiti Following Recent Hurricanes

July 21, 2009
Press Release

Today, Rep. Maxine Waters (D CA) delivered a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, urging her to include at least $300 million in disaster assistance for Haiti in the supplemental appropriations bill or another appropriate bill.  The letter was signed by 67 Members of Congress.  Copies of the letter were delivered to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Appropriations.  The text of the letter follows:

We are writing to request that you include at least $300 million in appropriations for disaster assistance for Haiti following the devastating hurricanes that swept through that impoverished country.

Over the past month, Haiti has been devastated by four deadly storms in rapid succession, Tropical Storm Fay, Hurricane Gustav, Tropical Storm Hanna, and Hurricane Ike.  On Monday, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) reported that 15,134 houses have been damaged or destroyed, and 154 people have been killed.  As the flood waters began to recede, additional bodies have been found and buried.  Tragically, the death toll may never be known.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), up to 800,000 people in Haiti are in dire need of humanitarian assistance.  As of September 6th, more than 100,000 people had taken refuge in temporary shelters – and this was before the onslaught of Hurricane Ike.  Many roads and bridges have been damaged or destroyed, and crops have been lost.  There is a desperate need for food, water, and health services.

Haiti is already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.  It does not have the capacity to respond to the widespread death and destruction caused by storms of this magnitude.  Immediate assistance from the United States is critical to meet the emergency needs of the Haitian people and begin to rebuild damaged homes and infrastructure.

We urge you to provide an appropriation of at least $300 million in disaster assistance for Haiti in the supplemental appropriations bill or another legislative vehicle that will be passed before Congress adjourns, and we look forward to working with you to help the people of Haiti rebuild their homes and their lives after these unprecedented storms.

Congresswoman Waters has been a leader in Congress in efforts to assist Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, with democratization and economic development.  She has also championed international debt cancellation for poor nations through legislation such as
H. R. 2634, the Jubilee Act.