Updated – Hurricane Matthew Impacts Caribbean Partners
We will continue posting updates to this page as they are received with the most recent news at the top.
October 21st –
Polycarpe Joseph, Executive Director of House of Hope reports:
The situations in the Grand’Anse and the Southwest departments in the country are catastrophic. For more than two weeks after Hurricane Matthew hit that part of Haiti, the citizens there are simply living in the worst situation imaginable.
House of Hope has developed a sustained effort for the last five years in communities in these departments. We were working in a re-integration program with children who had left domestic work and reunited them with their biological families. This year we followed up on the return of 42 children to 30 families. In that sense, Hurricane Matthew has damaged or destroyed everything we could have achieved in the countryside. All of the repaired houses, prepared for the receiving of these children, were ruined by the hurricane. Now, these families (about 200 people) are homeless. Also, the gardens we helped them to cultivate are destroyed, the animals are dead, the commercial activities they were doing, and the long term projects they had together have been devastated by the hurricane. The books and notebooks, the shoes, and the uniforms of these children are lost. The worst part of this situation is that these are people who don’t live in a major town where humanitarian aid is distributed. They are poor farmers and humanitarian aid doesn’t reach the places where they live with their families. Also, they can’t drink the water from the river because of the cholera epidemic.
In spite of this situation, we want to give thanks to Global Ministries for accompanying us in this difficult time. This provides us the resources to share food, hygienic kits, and blankets in these regions. Our hope is to help the people of these communities to rebuild their houses and assist them in cultivating their gardens again, so the returned children can attend at school in their communities and they can stay with their families.
We must help them to have hope. We must help them to see alternatives in their lives because their situation is really desperate. Many of them have lost all they had. We need to help them buy the necessities to rebuild their houses, seeds and materials to cultivate their gardens, and permit their children to return to school.
Thank you for allowing us to serve these children of God. In their name, receive all our gratitude.
October 19th –
Rev. Patrick Villier, CONASPEH’s President, reported that 60,000 people have been displaced in Haiti due to Hurricane Mathew. All of the harvest has been destroyed. One million people are in need of humanitarian help. 320 schools were destroyed. The Haitian Government is asking for international solidarity. Churches, which also serve as schools, community centers, and even hospitals, are mostly destroyed on the southern and southwest part of the island. The elections that were supposed to be held in October were cancelled. The new dates for elections are November and February, for the second round.
The passing of the hurricane has given a clear picture of the material and social needs in Haiti. The economic situation in Haiti is simply catastrophic: 41% of the people are unemployed, the inflation rate has surpassed 13%, and GDP grew by less than 1.7%. Haiti’s trade deficit is one of the reasons why 80% of the population is living in poverty. With an annual income of just $1,800 per person, Haitians are classified as among the poorest on the planet.
Southern Haiti is a coastal and mountainous region where families of farmers and fishermen have lived, loved, and raised their families for centuries. CONASPEH’s leadership worries that once the people face the effects of total crop devastation, families will move off their lands to try and live elsewhere. It is important to avoid a massive migration to the North, where the devastation of the 2010 earthquake is still affecting the people.
That is why CONASPEH is focusing their first efforts in the midst of this catastrophe by looking for small economic investments and the recovery of families’ well-being, including the reconstruction of their homes. Along with the economic reactivation, CONASPEH is investing in the recovery of the churches’ infrastructure. As soon as they can rebuild the roofs and the structures of their churches, they plan to give temporary housing and health facilities to the victims of the hurricane.
The Cuban Council of Churches reported Hurricane Matthew hit Punta Caleta in the south of Guantánamo province, on October 4 2016 at 6pm local time, where it remained for eight hours with winds of 250 km/h, leaving territories severely affected in Guantánamo and Holguin provinces.
Waves of 6 to 8 meters high, coastal flooding, heavy rains and winds with over 100 km/h gusts remained around 48 hours, battering the eastern and central coast of Cuba, especially in the municipalities of Yateras, San Antonio South, Baracoa, Maisi and the Imías province of Guantánamo and Holguin.
The biggest damages reported are in the electrical and communication services; the main routes of access to the area collapsed and more than 176,000 people in five municipalities of Guantánamo were cut off for more than 24 hours due to the collapse of bridges, falling trees, overflowing rivers and water walls, coastal flooding and landslides. This affected more than 95% of houses, mostly with loss of roofs and roof structures. Food security also suffered due the destruction of coconut, banana and cocoa plantations, which are the main sources of livelihood in the area.
Guantánamo is the poorest province in Cuba. Despite the low level of disaster preparation among the population, the measures taken by the Civil Defense avoided casualties. A total of 1,079 people were evacuated, and they moved to friends’ or families’ houses, shelters, churches and even in nearby caves. Currently, 100,000 inhabitants have lost access to a safe water supply. In response, six brigades of the National Institute of Hydraulic Resources are working to reverse the situation and water is being supplied to the population through temporary pipes.
NEEDS (The Emergency Committee of the Cuban Council of Churches (CIC)) was activated on Friday October 4th and had its first meeting in order to take some measures on preparedness at a national and local level. Local Emergency Committees of the eastern provinces were activated immediately. The coordination between CIC and the governmental Office for Religious Affairs (OAAR) was established to expedite visits to the affected areas. However, the final damage and needs assessment is not complete at this time due to the difficulties in accessing the most affected areas. The local ecclesiastic leadership, government authorities, and CIC consider the main priories to be emergency relief (shelter, water, food, and hygiene kits), health support, and psychosocial support. Pastor Joel Ortega Dopico, President of the Cuban Council of Churches, has been in the area affected by the hurricane along with representatives of the local churches and the Cuban government authorities in order to continue the assessment.
Rev. Miguel Ángel Cancú, Executive Secretary of the Evangelical Dominican Church, reports that the passing of Hurricane Matthew affected several provinces. The Evangelical Dominican Church is putting its emphasis on helping the South Region, where it has 18 congregations and 17 chapels.
The huge amount of rain damaged lots of homes, destroying belongings and appliances. The Vicente Noble community was the most affected by the hurricane, because a waterway overflowed and flooded a majority of the houses as well as the community hospital.
At this moment, they are providing beds, home appliances, and food to people in their congregations as well as the rest of the community.
October 13th –
According to the government of Haiti, some 900 persons have been killed and 90,000 people were evacuated and relocated from their homes in search of safety because of this natural disaster. The eye of the storm hit the south of the country as well as the southeast and part of the west. It is the first Category 4 hurricane to plague Haiti since 1964. The eye of the hurricane affected the Departments of Sud, Grand’Anse, Sud East, La Gonave, and West.
It has been reported that about 150 square miles are flooded. The situation has been described as very difficult in these regions, including destroyed houses, devastated plantations, damaged and disrupted public transportation, and lack of access to water. The sea came to the streets in several places in the south. Thus, in the village of Pestel, the situation has been described as “catastrophic”, where there is currently no access to highways or many of the secondary roads due to flooding.
Falling rain has been estimated between 12 – 25 inches, particularly in the Sud Department. The Haitian government has advised people to remain in their homes in order to prevent worse consequences. Many people have stayed in properties without restrooms or latrines, and are facing a possible rise in epidemics such as Zika, Malaria, Cholera, etc.
Polycarpe Joseph, Executive Director of House of Hope, shared that at this moment, all of the families that have been affected by the Hurricane are beneficiaries of the House of Hope program. Among them, they serve 50 older women abandoned by their families, through their ‘Sharing and Solidarity’ program. Also, they are working directly with 30 families in Grand’Anse, in the southwest of the country, who were totally devastated by the hurricane to the point of losing their houses, gardens, and businesses. Last but not least, House of Hope is working directly on the well-being of 220 marginalized children in their facilities in Port-Au-Prince. Polycarpe Joseph, also shared with Global Ministries about their work: “We are collecting some funds per family, but we don’t give the money directly to the family. When we help the people following a disaster, we buy the all products: food and medicine, and we make kits for each family. And in this case, all of our colleagues at House of Hope are mobilized to bring their help to the victims.”
P.D. Rev. Miguel Angel Cancú, General Secretary of the Evangelical Dominican Church, reports, “As the media has reported, the passing of Hurricane Matthew near our coasts affected several provinces. Our church is directing its solidarity to the South Region, where we have 18 congregations and 17 chapels.”
“The huge amount of rain affected lots of houses, damaging appliances and belongings. The zone most affected by the hurricane was the community of Vicente Noble. There, a waterway overflowed and flooded the majority of the houses, including the community hospital.
Our urgency at this moment is to help the victims with beds, home appliances and food. In that community we have two congregations, but our intention is that any aid can be used for the community.
Hurricane Matthew also hit the eastern coast of Cuba on October 4, where it remained for 8 hours with winds of 155 mph, causing severe damage in the provinces of Guantánamo and Holguin. Week of Compassion is responding in the region through the ACT Alliance Cuba Forum through the Cuban Council of Churches (CIC).
More than 176,000 people were cut off from communication for 24 hours as bridges collapsed, trees fell, rivers overflowed, and landslides formed. Across the region, more than 95% of houses lost roofs. Livelihoods and food security are also threatened in the region due to the destruction of coconut, banana, and cocoa plantations.
October 5th –
At least 11 deaths have been attributed to Hurricane Matthew. Five deaths were reported in Haiti, including a 26-year-old man who drowned trying to rescue a child who fell into a rushing river, authorities said. The child was saved. Two people died in Petit Goave, including a woman who was struck by a falling electrical pole, reported the mayor of the town, according to the Associated Press.
Four deaths were recorded in the neighboring Dominican Republic and one each in Colombia and in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Haiti Libre reported on Wednesday that one person remains missing and dozens have been injured.
Patrick Villier, President of the National Spiritual Council of Haitian Churches or CONASPEH, reported that, at this time, the most affected departments of the country are in Southern Haiti. Sud, Grand´Anse, Nippes and Sud-est have been severely affected by the winds and the rain, mostly the crops and the houses. There had been some deaths, which were primarily individuals who had not been able to evacuate the designated areas.
Polycarpe Joseph, Executive Director of “House of Hope” expressed that hurricane Matthew have made a big disaster in the country up to this moment. His estimates are that two or three weeks will be necessary before the completion of an evaluation of structural damage in the country. Right at this moment, the main needs are focused on helping the people in the next 48 hour. He says that it is imperative, at this moment, to provide medicines and food for families at Grand´Anse Department as well as the children of House of Hope.
In the Dominican Republic, Denisse Pichardo, from Caminante, reports lots of rain there but no strong winds. There are floods all around the country. The soil is saturated with water so there have been landslides and people have lost their homes, especially in rural areas. Three children have died because of a wall that fell over them while they were sleeping. They will continue the monitoring of damages after the hurricane passes over the island.
We will continue sharing our Partners´news from this event on this page and to seek solutions to be in solidarity with the suffering of our friends as well as the people in Haiti, Dominican Republic and Cuba.
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