Guatemalan and other South Florida residents are gathering assistance for victims of the volcano that erupted in Guatemala Sunday, its lava and ashes leaving at least 99 dead.
Five centers have been set up in Miami to receive the donations, including nonperishable food, baby and adult diapers, blankets, water, juices, first aid items and powdered soap.
Organizers also are asking for boots for the firefighters working in the disaster area, because their boots are melting.
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“It's so satisfying to be Guatemalan at this time, because we have been seeing the solidarity of Guatemalans since the disaster, and even people from other countries called to ask how they can help with money,” said Julieta Trabanino, secretary of the Guatemalan-American Association of Miami.
Nearly 1 million Guatemalans live in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Trabanino said.
Her association is working with the Guatemalan consulate in Miami to channel the aid needed by the more than 1 million people who have been affected by the Volcan de Fuego, which erupted on Sunday. On Tuesday, the volcano was still recording eight to 10 moderate explosions per hour.
Trabanino said donors can also bring in breathing masks, antibiotics, alcohol, painkillers, IV fluids, toothpaste, toothbrushes, mattresses and sanitary pads.
“We already have some sea shipping companies that are helping us to consolidate the cargo, for now one or two containers,” she said. “The first container could sail this Sunday.”
The assistance effort will last two weeks, and will be extended if needed.
The collection centers are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at:
▪ Tikal Bakery, 1255 NW First St., Miami, FL 33135
▪ Guate Cargo, 1418 NW West Flagler St. Miami, FL 33135
▪ Jacalito Restaurant #2, 33 NW 27th Ave. Miami, FL 33125
▪ Zuleta Miami, 8061 NW 67th St., Miami, FL 33166
▪ Dorita, 20328 NE 16th Place, Miami, FL 33179
“We are very thankful for the assistance that our Guatemalan and non-Guatemalan brothers can give us,” Trabanino said. “The hardest thing is that the people who have been affected are poor and wound up with nothing, losing many relatives and everything material.”
“We are calling on everyone who can help us,” she added.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Miami has established an emergency fund for humanitarian assistance to the victims of the disaster and their families. To make a contribution, visit JewishMiami.org/guatemala or call 305-576-4000, ext. 428.
Donation checks with the notation of “Fuego Volcano Relief” can be mailed to the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, 4200 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, FL 33137.
The Guatemalan Red Cross said anyone outside the Central American nation who wants to help can deposit the money at its account in the Banrural bank, No. 3033699352.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said Washington will provide assistance to the families affected by the eruption and “sends its condolences to the loved ones of the victims who died as a result of this terrible natural disaster.”
“Our embassy in Guatemala is in contact with Guatemalan authorities and is ready to support efforts as needed,” she said. “We express our firm support for the people of Guatemala during these difficult times.”