March 6, 2010

Sea Hunter's supplies reach the hands of Haitian people

By Bill Nemitz bnemitz@pressherald.com
Columnist

(Continued from page 2)

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Haitian workers at the dock in Les Cayes transfer relief supplies Friday from Sea Hunter onto a truck for transport to Hope Village, an orphanage and community assistance program operated by the Rev. Marc Boisvert, a native of Lewiston.

Bill Nemitz/Staff Columnist

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A United Nations Police patrol boat arrives at Sea Hunter’s anchorage Friday morning to provide security during the offloading operations off the coast of Les Cayes, Haiti.

Bill Nemitz/Staff Columnist

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Clerveau, before quickly leaving Sea Hunter for the day, explained that he was simply examining what was coming off the ship and determining its proper destination.

All of the supplies that were removed from the containers, donated by the Florida-based charity Cross International, are earmarked for Hope Village.

Items still to be offloaded from the ship's two large cargo holds, including 80 tons of donations from people and businesses all over Maine, will be distributed among earthquake refugees in Les Cayes as well as people still living in and around the disaster zone in Port-au-Prince.

A smaller cache of supplies will be taken to the island of Ile a Vache, about seven miles off Les Cayes.

The fate of the 10 empty containers remains unclear.

Nathalie Amyotte, a Canadian who works as resource manager for Hope Village, said during a visit to Sea Hunter that the containers might be lashed across two of the 40-foot landing boats and carefully floated to the dock.

"We really need those containers," Amyotte said before going ashore to discuss the plan with engineers. "We want to turn them into buildings."

The other large item aboard Sea Hunter, a mobile medical unit, appears destined to return to Maine for lack of a place to offload it without prolonging Sea Hunter's voyage.

The medical unit was donated by the Maine Migrant Health Program to Konbit Sante, a Portland-based organization that supports a regional health program in northern Haiti.

Last week, after efforts to unload the vehicle in Miragoane succumbed to bureaucratic delay, a Konbit Sante spokeswoman said other means would be found to bring it back to Haiti.

Despite all their setbacks, including three ocean storms, a 12-day "hold order" by the Coast Guard in Miami and repeated foot-dragging by Haitian government officials, Sea Hunter's crew members were universally jubilant that their persistence had finally paid off.

"I'm really excited we're finally getting this stuff to the people who need it," said deckhand and crane operator Nick Snyer, 23, of Hopkinton, Mass. "I was praying every night that this would happen."

Deckhand Julia Cote, 25, of Portland said the five weeks of near- constant frustration now feel worth it.

"We said we were going to do it," she said with a wide smile. "And we're finally getting it done."

 

Columnist Bill Nemitz can be contacted at 791-6323 or at:

bnemitz@pressherald.com

 

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Additional Photos

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A small fleet of Haitian boats, monitored by two United Nations patrol boats, makes it way alongside Sea Hunter as offloading operations get under way Friday. “This is what we started out in Portland for,” said Sea Hunter’s owner, Greg Brooks.

Bill Nemitz/Staff Columnist

  


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