Haiti After Hurricane Matthew
News / Updates | October 31, 2016 by Media Center
On the morning of October 4, 2016, a dangerous Category 4 storm made contact near the southern coast of Haiti.
The fierce rain and powerful winds from Hurricane Matthew have left the people in the affected areas in an extremely dire situation, especially as they are still recovering from the catastrophic 2010 earthquake, the cholera outbreak that followed in its wake, and the severe flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
Several coastal areas have flooded, and canals have already begun to overflow into the streets in Port-au-Prince and surrounding towns. Many who were reluctant to leave their homes have become stranded amidst the chaos. Our dedicated volunteers are there assessing immediate needs, such as clean drinking water, first-aid kits, food, beds, and more.
Read our latest updates
To help more people who have been impacted by Hurricane Matthew, our volunteers will be expanding the areas of our reach in Haiti for further disaster relief work. We look forward to our continued work alongside the people of Haiti as we aid in this journey to recovery.
A second delivery of 9.1 tons of dehydrated rice from our Tzu Chi headquarters in Taiwan will soon be arriving in Haiti as well.
At this stage in our relief efforts, a total of 10,043 hot meals have been provided to hurricane survivors, according to our local volunteers in Haiti.
300 boxes of dehydrated rice, flavored in Haitian style with beans, have now arrived in Haiti for our hot meal service. Additionally, as our Cash For Relief program continues in Haiti, Tzu Chi relief volunteers provided tools, such as shovels and work gloves, to motivate the local residents after Hurricane Matthew. The Jing Si delivery of rice went toward the preparation of speedy and nutritious meals for Hurricane Matthew survivors in the city of Jérémie, and our relief volunteers were able to provide 900 local residents with meals for people in three different locations in Haiti. Hot meals, tools, and sustained kindness will go a long way in expediting the cleaning process, and restoring normalcy.
Our disaster aid program known as Cash For Relief has begun in Haiti. This program for relief is aimed toward helping Hurricane Matthew survivors regain their footing in this still very difficult time. With 60 individuals already signed up on the first day, is off to a promising start. Those who join our Cash For Relief program will receive daily $8 working wages. We will continue to provide disaster relief, as well as hot meals in the coming days.
Hurricane Matthew damaged a great deal of agriculture on the southern coast of Haiti, and food is still very much a top priority for many survivors in the town of Les Cayes. This lack of food, especially in more rural areas, had created an increasingly dire situation. Tzu Chi volunteers in Haiti got to work quickly, and set out to provide hot meals for hurricane survivors in Les Cayes. volunteers in Haiti provided hot meals to approximately 100 individuals affected by this disaster.
Yesterday, there were approximately 100 hurricane survivors in Haiti benefitted from our hot meal distributions. More disaster relief is on its way, and we also aim to begin our Cash For Relief program in Jérémie this upcoming week, as well as more meal services. Relief volunteers are also planning for a large-scale distribution of rice, roofing materials for rebuilding homes, shoes, and blankets this November.
After Hurricane Matthew tore through Haiti, inclement weather has continued to persist, causing even more trouble for the people of Haiti as they attempt to return to normalcy, and rebuild their lives.
Working with local partners, our relief volunteers have begun organizing disaster aid distribution locations, and today, we will be providing hot meals in the city of Jérémie. Further distributions are being planned for Sunday. Additionally, 300 boxes - which is a total of 3.9 tons - of dehydrated rice will also be delivered to Haiti from our headquarters in Taiwan.
Meeting with a local not-for-profit organization, in Torbreck, Tzu Chi volunteers in Les Cayes, Haiti, worked to identify the areas that are most desperately in need of disaster aid. Due to the devastation left by Hurricane Matthew, many survivors are still in need of relief. With the help of our partners, we will continue to provide much-needed help for the people of Haiti.
Our disaster assessment team drove to Jérémie via a newly constructed road connecting Jérémie and Les Cayes, the new road shortening what would have been a 20 hour drive to a mere three hours. As Jérémie is still in stages of development, Hurricane Matthew’s arrival had made the situation especially difficult when the cellphone system was struck, affecting 99% of residents. With the destruction done to the coastline farms in Les Cayes, many people require food, and in Jérémie, there are approximately 2,000 individuals who desperately need help, making the distribution of food supplies top priority for hurricane survivors. Speaking with the Mayor of Jérémie , he expressed his worries over the recovery of Haiti after the hurricane.
“It’s a very tense moment; a shocking moment. We have never seen that much devastation in our city.
- Mayor Claude Harry Milord
Certain neighborhoods in Jérémie are covered in mud, and pairing this with the issue of debris piling up in the streets, the founder of the Tzu Chi Foundation, Master Cheng Yen, has advised for the planning of a “Cash For Relief” program in Haiti, which would help with cleaning, as well as other means of providing aid.
Not only are people left homeless and are starving, but we don’t have water either, and cholera is spreading in the dirty waters. So our first needs are water, food, and medicine.”
- Mayor Claude Harry Milord
During a meeting with the Mayor of Jérémie, Claude Harry Milord, Tzu Chi volunteers in Haiti received important updates on the pressing needs of the people affected by Hurricane Matthew. In this one city, the homes of 9,000 families have been destroyed, and because of a #cholera outbreak, medical supplies and tarps are in high demand. The mayor also expressed concern that the number of families now homeless in more rural areas is still unknown.
The people of Haiti are also in dire need of clean water and food. Although they don’t even have pots to cook in, 12,000 people still require food, and our volunteers will be providing hot meals immediately.
As individuals attempt to clean out their ruined homes, the streets are becoming increasingly littered with debris. This is a problem that the mayor explained cannot be remedied at the moment, as they currently do not have access to trucks to remove it.
During our volunteers’ time doing assessment in Les Cayes, they had the opportunity to hear the stories of Hurricane Matthew survivors. One man, Alphonse, who lives near Les Cayes with his wife, Isemiela and their ten children were devastated by the loss of their crops, as well as the severe damage done to their home. For the meantime, they are staying with a neighbor, but they have received no further aid as of yet.
The situation is similar for an elderly woman, Dimerzil Neziliane, who lives with her niece and granddaughter. Her home is in ruins, and due to her old age, paired with the loss of her home, she cannot accomplish certain activities that had once kept her afloat, such as the preparation of a sweet Hatian candy, known as Tablette Pistache, to sell.
We also met with the father of Tzu Chi volunteer, Charlemagne Emile, whose family was affected by this disaster as well. His father has lost his sight in one eye, and their home is completely destroyed. Being a stockbreeder, his father, Erick, was also devastated to find that he had lost many of his animals to the storm. He knows this journey to recovery will be a long one, as he told our volunteers that “life would not be easy in the coming days.”
Francois Marie-Claude has also had her livelihood as a cook torn from her by Hurricane Matthew. With no place to prepare a hot meal, and furthermore, no home, she can no longer use her skills as her source of income. For now, she too, will be staying with a neighbor.
It was quickly made evident that the people of Haiti would require further emergency relief after our initial assessment, and our volunteers were spurred into action. Mayor Gabriel Fortune, who is mayor of one of the most devastated areas, has explained the situation, as well as some of the most pressing issues that he has noted so far:
"My name is Gabriel Fortune, the Mayor of Les Cayes. First of all, I want to thank everyone in this group for the initiative you have taken that can allow Les Cayes to benefit from your assistance. For us, based on my observations, our biggest needs are two things: first, we need heavy equipment (like a loader) to clear access roads and certain neighborhoods, and second, my observations are that all the homes, many of which have tin roofs, or metal roofing, have been ripped off; almost 100% of them.”
- Mayor Gabriel Fortune
Destruction lines the streets of Les Cayes, as well as many more communities in Haiti. Homes lay in ruin, and many are cut off from the rest of the country due to the damage and swelling flood.
“Now, the need for tin roofing is extremely important and that would allow us to distribute it by zones and then the people can work to find the rest of the materials, like wood, to finish the job of covering their homes. Because all of the walls are there, but all of the roofs are gone. And while the rain is still falling, all the people in the crowded neighborhoods, in the poorest zones, in the slums, they don’t have the means to deal with this situation... ”
- Mayor Gabriel Fortune
So many memories must also be left behind, as some possessions-- irreplaceable things, such as a child’s drawings-- can never be replaced.
“We are counting now how many have lost their homes completely, but in the meantime we can do something concrete: re-roofing the houses that are still standing."
- Mayor Gabriel Fortune
Please keep the people of Haiti in your hearts as they confront the wreckage before them, and persevere through all that may still lay ahead. We, at Tzu Chi, will continue to offer help to those affected by this tragedy, and attempt to reduce the suffering thrust upon the people of Haiti.
Updates will follow steadily on this blog as more information is obtained.
Please help us in this mission of delivering compassionate relief.