Haiti: Hurricane Matthew

Haiti: Hurricane Matthew

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The most powerful Hurricane in the Caribbean in a decade passed over Haiti with devastating results. Violent winds and heavy downpours have deeply affected the country that has not recovered from the mega earthquake in 2010 and remains the poorest country in the western hemisphere.

We evacuated all the kids and staff at our center in Port au Prince the day before the storm hit, (no easy feat!).  We were especially concerned for our center/school/children’s home, worrying the retaining walls would not hold up and we would lose everything to the force of the river.  We monitored the storm all day, and were able to stay in touch with teams around the country via skype and whatsapp. The hurricane ended up bearing more west than initially predicted, sparing Port au Prince from being flattened. There was localized flooding, loss of homes and a number of bridges were washed out, but our center was still standing when the storm moved on.

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All our kids and staff have returned and the school is open. Our team in the Southeast experienced tremendous amounts of rain and some flooding, but our school and all the programs are safe.

Unfortunately other parts of  Haiti were not so fortunate.  In the southeast, many villages have been devastated. The town of Jeremie in particu;ar was hit hard. In a recent report from a pilot doing a fly over he states: Jeremie, “It’s wiped out. Barely 1 percent of houses are standing. The people are alive … they survived. But soon, they may starve. They’re cutoff.” He went on to say here are some villages where they still haven’t been able to hear from a single person.

The Anse Rouge district in the northwest was badly affected as well. We have sent in a small team to do an assessement in the southwest and will follow up with aid. Here is an excerpt from the repost sent by our team coordinator in the Anse Rouge area in the NW:

“The heaviest impact has been felt in the coastal villages which have been battered by 10′ high waves and 75 kmh winds, destroying houses and roads.  The main connection between Gonaives to the south and Anse Rouge has been cut off.  The % of houses damaged moderately to severely is still being assessed, but it is already clear that the heaviest impacted areas have been Anse Rouge, Coridon, Point des Mangles, and Gran Savan.  Fishing boats and equipment have been destroyed in virtually all the coastal villages.  The extent of the damage reaches the mountainous areas all the way up to Commune Terre Neuve, with reports coming of farms and roads washed off and livestock lost.  As of today heavy rains continue, the dry rivers in the area have cut off connections between villages, making thorough assessment in the entire Commune more difficult at this point.

The main type of assistance which we can foresee being most useful is unconditional cash vouchers to support families in shelters and those most vulnerable, house reconstruction/construction, livelihoods assistance (primarily fishing and salt livelihoods), and seeds/tools.  We will be meeting with our traditional partners here in Haiti and will let you know what kind of emergency programs will be activated here in Haiti.  I will be present at the National Emergency Coordination meetings in Port-au-Prince and will share all relevant information as well. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions, and we’ll greatly welcome any news of possible assistance for this emergency effort”

A big concern now is to make sure that people get safe drinking water and safe water for washing as the threat of a major cholera outbreak is very real.  The doctors in Haiti are saying “though the storm has passed, experience tells us that the worst is yet to come.”

If you would like to be part of this relief effort, please consider making a tax- deductible donation now.  Thanks much.

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