Recovery from a very active hurricane season continues in Texas and Puerto Rico. Iowan Jill Morehead has seen the devastation as part of her work with the global humanitarian aid organization Mercy Corps.
Morehead says although restoring power to Puerto Ricans is getting significant attention, she says clean, affordable water is a more immediate need.
“It’s like if all of a sudden tomorrow in Des Moines your tap water stops running and you try to go to the store and they don’t have any," she said.“If they do have some, you are limited to a 24 pack, how are you going to get enough water for your family?"
Morehead recently spent a month in Puerto Rico after being in Texas for a number of weeks as part of disaster services in the Houston area.
She says in Texas, her organization looked for local, grassroots organizations to partner with, because they know the communities better than Mercy Corps does. Also, her organization has a partnership with MasterCard, and was able to provide $150 debit cards to help people meet their immediate needs.
Morehead says while the hurricane relief work was important, Mercy Corps also had to make sure it wouldn't divert resources from other important work the organization is involved in.
"There's a severe food crisis going on in Yemen right now," she says. "Also in Somalia and other places where we work regularly."
Morehead says it's a little bittersweet leaving an area after assisting in recovery, but her organization's priority is always to help get a program started, and hand it over to local groups to continue.
Morehead says she expects to be in Iowa through the end of the year, preparing for future projects. She will speak about her work with Mercy Corps on the Scott Community College campus in Bettendorf November 8th.