‘A lot of scared people’: Iowa nonprofit aids Haiti as death toll rises after earthquake

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PELLA, Iowa — A nonprofit in Pella plans to send food to Haiti after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck the country on Saturday, killing at least 1,297 people.

Iowan Denise Dent is part of Many Hands for Haiti, a nonprofit based in Pella. She currently lives in Haiti where she serves as the director of education for the nonprofit.

Dent was in Haiti when the earthquake struck. She lives on the northern side of the country and says the earthquake lasted for a short time.

“Things started to shake, so I’m looking around the apartment, and everything is kind of swaying back and forth, and I’m like ‘hey, this is an earthquake,” said Dent.

On Sunday, the Haitian government declared a state of emergency. The death toll continues to rise and thousands are injured, Haiti’s Civil Protection Agency said.

“I guarantee there are bloody hands that people have had from trying to dig out their own family members. I guarantee you that people with broken limbs who are wounded are trying to figure out [what] they are going to do,” said Tim Brand, the CEO of Many Hands for Haiti.

Brand says the earthquake frightened people in the country, and many are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder from the deadly earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010.

“There’s a lot of scared people. Post-traumatic stress syndrome is a real thing, and none of them want to go back into their homes right now to go to sleep,” said Brand. “There’s a lot of aftershocks, above five on the Richter scale of aftershocks. There’s been at least two of them in the last 24 hours.”

Brand says much of the affected areas are out of food and supplies. After recent political unrest in the country, it’s only making matters worse. Many Hands for Haiti is working with other organizations to help families.

“People just need to pray for Haiti. They just need to keep Haitians in their prayers,” said Dent.

Dent also says there are various ways for Iowans to lend a helping hand to those in need by donating here and volunteering at Many Hands Thrift Market, which helps communities in Iowa and other countries.

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