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US Relief Groups Gather Aid for Haitian, Dominican Flood Victims - 2004-05-26

Relief organizations in the United States are gathering food and medical supplies to send to the thousands of people left homeless from recent flooding in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

Organizers in New York City say they need canned food, rice, clothing and medicine for survivors of the floods that have killed at least 500 people. They are calling on New Yorkers - especially the city's large Dominican community - to contribute to the effort. Moises Perez of the Alianza Dominicana community group says he is coordinating relief efforts with other Caribbean aid organizations.

"It's just absolutely devastating what's going on," he said. "The number of children is very painful to watch. We will be coordinating other types of assistance in the following weeks."

The Dominican Republic's president-elect, Leonel Fernandez, is also in New York City to appeal for assistance. The World Food Program has sent $200,000 in food aid to the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

United Nations teams and peacekeeping troops stationed in Haiti have been ferrying food and supplies to help with the relief effort.

The floods and landslides came after storms dumped heavy rains on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, which the two nations share. Hundreds of people are still missing after swollen rivers and mudslides devastated homes.

Weather forecasters expect continuing rainfall on the island through the weekend.