MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Major relief efforts are underway in Central America following the devastation caused by Hurricanes Iota and Eta, on top of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

CBS4’s Hank Tester looked at one relief organization’s efforts and why most relief operations prefer cash contributions.

Recent Hurricanes Eta and Iota killed at least 40 people and left thousands homeless in Central America.

Linda Coello, President and Founder of Cepudo, a longtime Food For The Poor partner, says, “We were with COVID. That situation was real bad and now with Eta and Iota, things are getting real, real bad.”

Coello’s organization is an in-country partner with Coconut Creek-based Food for the Poor, which has a track record in the Caribbean and Latin America with ongoing relief efforts.

Ed Raine, President and Chief Executive Officer of Food For The Poor, says, “We have been in those countries for two decades or more.” This means the organization has a history with ongoing contacts, knows the ropes when dealing with each countries’ customs, regulations, and how to move relief supplies to their ports.

“We are able to operate at significant scale. We have huge logistics and distribution capability. We can get everything in, get it cleared and distributed in those countries in a very efficient and reliable way,” said Raine.

Relief supplies from the Christian-based organization were already on the move in the wake of Hurricane Eta.

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“We have 18 containers already from Food For The Poor. We have some at the port. We have to take out,” said Coello.

Food For The Poor is able to purchase pack, manifest, and ship, which many in the humanitarian business say is the way to operate and that takes cash. Which many say is the best way to contribute to a relief operation.

“Cash is really the way we can help fastest. We can send that cash directly to our partners in those countries and they can purchase things locally. That’s what we are doing now, in addition to the containers we are sending,” Raine said.

“Remember, we lost all the crops. So, right now, what we have already in storage warehouses is what we have. We can buy, but after this is done. There will be nothing because all the crops are gone,” said Colello.

If you would like to make a donation for ongoing relief efforts in Central America, go to FoodForThePoor.org or click here.

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