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Thunder Bay group collects hurricane relief for Cuba

MEMO was planning a shipment before Irma arrived
MEMO volunteers packing supplies

THUNDER BAY - Thunder Bay-based MEMO (Medical Equipment Modernization Opportunity) is poised to ship a 40-foot-long ocean container including hurricane recovery supplies to Cuba.

Hurricane Irma rolled along the island on the weekend with wind up to 200 Km/h, causing widespread destruction.

Government media said over one million people were relocated to refuge sites as the storm approached.

Dr. Jerome Harvey, who speaks for MEMO, says the organization is collecting items for rebuilding homes, including construction materials, electrical wire, nails, wheel barrows and hand tools such as shovels.

By coincidence, the organization had approached the Cuban government in July for authorization to send other supplies to the island. The container was already half full by the time Irma arrived, so MEMO hopes items for disaster recovery will complete the shipment.

MEMO works through the Cuban Council of Churches to ensure donations go where they are most needed and are not sold or used for personal profit.

Donations of supplies may be dropped off at the MEMO warehouse at 258 Van Horne Street on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 9:00 a.m. and 12 noon.

Harvey said Cuba "has lots of human resources, so doesn't need people help. They have absolutely no reserve physical resources, so a disaster like this takes years to repair as people wait for construction material and tools to become available."

He said eastern provinces of the country are still rebuilding from Hurricane Matthew last year. "A hundred thousand homes were destroyed in that. We have visited there...It doesn't matter what we send them, they need it."

It costs $11,000 to ship a container.

Financial donations can be made here: