Hurricane Matthew Update #2 – Tuesday Oct 4 – 6pm
It is tricky to update about different places in Haiti right now. A lot of the information on facebook must be fact-checked as there are pictures being spread from past events, such as Tropical Storms Jaoquin and Sandy, and even pictures from other places, such as Kingston, Jamaica. I THINK all of the following is accurate, but I cannot guarantee it.
For our family: We’re enjoying our time with the Lotz family.
It has been a day of strong winds and heavy rain, but the house is dry and safe. There have been 10-20 trees fall within the view from our porch, including one which had a trunk over 20″ in diameter, but there was never anything that threatened the house we are in. Thank God for keeping us safe through this.
For our guys: At our house, the guys were reporting that everyone is safe, and the only damage that has been reported are to the Almond tree (in the front yard of our house), and the Breadfuit tree (which is by the stairs in the workshop), but neither damaged our property.
For Fort Jacques area: This is the area I can speak most definitively about, though I still only know what we saw from the porch. That is many downed trees, and a few houses with roofing tin flying off. This area is mostly large houses, so everything should be easily reparable for the residents, though it made for a cold and wet day. Power lines are down all over the place. It is a surprising bonus that since grid power was not on, it was safer for everyone when the power lines went down.
For Jacmel: Reports were moderate all things considered, though all of my reports are coming from ex-pats and what they can see from their compounds. I’m sure once we get out we will find that there was a lot of tin roofing ripped off of houses, and water damage all around. We know that trees were getting knocked down on ex-pat compounds so I’m sure they’re getting knocked down everywhere. Likely there were major mudslides as well, but I haven’t heard any reported. The rivers are extremely high and dangerous, including a large area that is typically marsh/swampland adjacent to Sarah Wallace’s compound. This likely means that Lavalle, Lavanneau, Bainet, and other cities in the mountains west of Jacmel are cut off from supply routes until the water receeds, assuming the (newly completed) bridge has not been damaged.
For Les Cayes: I’m hearing bad reports. The river is high and dangerous, cell phone coverage is mostly out, and there is extensive flooding throughout the town. More importantly, there are reports from Petit Goave that a bridge is out on National Route 2. This will mean that everything to the south and/or west of Petit Goave, including Miragoane, Les Cayes, and Jeremie, is cut off from the rest of the country until a safe detour is constructed. I have seen some terrible pictures of flooding, and reports of shoulder-high flood waters, but I have not confirmed them yet For Cote D’ Fer: I haven’t heard any reports, but it is likely isolated at this point completely if Route #2 is out, and the river is impassable from Jacmel.
For Grand Goave: All my friends seem to have checked in OK, so that’s good, but I don’t know any more than that. Considering a bridge was destroyed in Petit Goave, which is only one town over, flooding is probably pretty high in Grand Goave’s river as well.
For Port Au Prince: I have seen pictures from downtown Port-Au-Prince, as well as the Grise River between Tabarre and Santo, showing extremely high water levels, but I’m not sure of much else. With the amount of rain that has been falling, all lowland areas will be impacted by flooding, and that will be serious.
Moving Forward: This could have been a lot worse, but it is still very devastating, especially to the South and West of Haiti, the poorer communities, and the infrastructure. There will be many, many people who lost their houses and their possessions. Even more will have had significant damage, such as lost roofing on their houses. Disease, especially the risk of cholera or mosquito borne diseases, will likely jump in the next few weeks as everything is wet and the little “proper” sanitation that existed in the effected communities is likely destroyed.
Additionally, clean water will be even harder for people to get. The agricultural community probably lost most of their crops due to the high winds. And the lack of supply routes will compound the agricultural problems to cause food shortages, and make getting supplies to rebuild, and even just clear debris, more difficult.
I will try to return to Jacmel as soon as possible. Probably the roads will not be passable yet, though I can’t be sure. If they are, that is awesome. If not, I will try to catch a plane down there when the airports are open. At that point, we’ll get the house secure enough for Jamie and Mara to return, then get to work clearing roads and helping people dig out.
Relief teams would be more needed in the South and West. It would be premature to plan them until more evaluation is done. Financial support will be needed for all organizations that are working in Haiti to recover quickly, and to help their neighbors recover. Smaller organizations tend to be the most efficient, and the fastest, at distributing funds. Many have learned lessons after the earthquake on how to respond most effectively without undercutting local business, which combines the economic issues. For example, it is important to buy local to get money back into local hands and allow those people whose businesses survived to rebuild and help their neighbors to rebuild.
Additionally, it will be best to hire locals to do the work, when possible, so that they will have money to rebuild their own places as well. Obviously, at F1 we will use any money as wisely as possible, seeking to help re-establish infrastructure and provide jobs, but I would also recommend donations to Operation Blessing, Mission of Hope International and other organizations working in the South and West. I did have really good experiences with Samaritan’s Purse’s emergency shelters back in 2010, so they also seem like a decent choice to support, even if they are a “big” organization.
Please keep praying for us.