Builder McKinney responds to Haitian disaster

Builder of multi-million-dollar mega mansions in Manalapan, Frank McKinney is a kind of oxymoron. Today, at high noon (Thursday, Jan. 14), he chained himself to his Delray Beach treehouse, while it was moved 35-feet by a 60-ton crane, to make a statement about “what’s important to fight for,” he said. By mid-afternoon, he had boarded a chartered plane headed to Haiti to help.

The chaining event had been scheduled for weeks, the culmination of an eight-year battle with Delray Beach. It was also to serve as a small fundraiser for his Caring House Project Foundation.

Twelve years and $3 million later, McKinney’s foundation has built 11 self-sustaining villages, with three more underway. “Through the schools and orphanages, the project has touched the lives of 4,500 people,” he said. Now, half of the villages are either completely destroyed or damaged.

So McKinney, whose motto is Compassion with Action, gathered together a handful of search-and-rescue experts, medical personnel and equipment, and arranged for two chartered planes to transport them to the Port au Prince airport.

“My role has been logistics,” he said. “Ours will be one of the first domestics to get in.”

Going with McKinney are a search-and-rescue team, a nurse and a doctor from Colorado, people trained in search-and rescue from Delray Beach, two Creole speaking trained search-and-rescue people from West Palm Beach and a media person.

McKinney’s volunteers will help where needed with search, superficial excavation and medical assistance. They plan to set up tents at the Port Au Prince airport, making it their home base anywhere from 3 days to a week. He doubts that they will get to the villages he helped build. “I think we will be mobbed at the airport,” he said.