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A Friend in Need 

Local Matters: Burlingtonians band together to help sister city destroyed by hurricane

Damage from Hurricane Felix
  • Damage from Hurricane Felix

PUERTO CABEZAS - They say blood is thicker than water. With Burlington's "sister" city of Puerto Cabezas lying in ruins - victim of a vicious Atlantic Ocean hurricane - let's hope the adage is true.

Hurricane Felix ripped through the Nicaraguan city of 40,000 earlier this month, uprooting treasured mango trees and homes in his path. The Category 5 storm left 16,000 people homeless, and at least 100 dead. Burlingtonians have taken notice. Through efforts from the Burlington-Puerto Cabezas Sister City Committee, more than $2000 has been raised to help the ravaged city. When the amount reaches $2500, Burlington Mayor Bob Kiss pledges to match it with cash from city coffers.

"I think that we can guarantee that whatever's raised in Burlington will go to very specific educational and health-related needs," says Dan Higgins, chairman of the BPCSCC.

Additional funding is needed to provide food and clean water. Repairs must also be made to the 16,000 roofs Felix tore from homes. Higgins says outlying fishing communities were hit especially hard by the hurricane. Local fishermen received little, if any, warning of the approaching disaster.

"There is usually an immediate response to these kinds of disasters that work at a very basic level," says mayoral assistant Joe Reinert, "but it's in the following months, when they rebuild, that we really have a role there." For information on donating, log on to www.uvm.edu/sistercity.

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Patrick Ripley

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