Hurricane Matthew has brought devastation, shock and trauma to Haiti. For some people here, this disaster has stirred up difficult memories of the last major disaster – the earthquake of 2010. Many people here feel that Hurricane Matthew’s destruction has washed away the progress Haiti had made in rebuilding its major sectors, including health, since the earthquake.
The Category 4 storm slammed into Haiti’s southwestern peninsula on October 4, unleashing violent winds of 145 km//hour and torrential rains. Massive flooding has wiped out tens of thousands of homes across the country, forcing many to seek shelter. Buildings have collapsed, schools have closed and people are extremely anxious as efforts continue to bring people to safety and authorities and humanitarian aid agencies assess the damage and crucial needs. Our team travelled to Port-au-Prince to coordinate with the government last week to find out where humanitarian needs are greatest. We met with Haiti’s Interim President, Jocelerme Privert, and the First Lady, Ginette Michaud Privert on Friday. President Privert told me that he has been addressing the immediate need for food, water, shelter and medicines. The nation is in a state of “humanitarian emergency” and in the weeks and months ahead, the President said, he is keen to also focus on rehabilitating systems that were damaged or destroyed by the storm such as the health, agricultural and education sectors. He is extremely grateful for foreign humanitarian aid and stressed the need for all aid to be processed through the government to ensure it is distributed effectively.
The UN says 1.4 million Haitians need help, out of 2.1 million affected by the hurricane. HOPE is deploying medical volunteers to Haiti on Thursday as health concerns deepen throughout the country, especially in the southern region. Cholera cases are increasing and our volunteers have expertise in this area. HOPE has prepared a shipment of supplies, including water hydration tablets, gloves, saline solution, sponges, gauze, water purification units, generators and more. Our team will continue to coordinate with the Ministry of Health to identify areas of greatest need as we respond to this humanitarian crisis.
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