by Leslie Hale
Death and Destruction in Haiti
On the morning of October 4, Hurricane Matthew tore through the small Caribbean country of Haiti, leaving a path of death and destruction in its wake before continuing on through the Dominican Republic, Cuba, the Bahamas and the southeastern coast of the United States.
The impact of the storm on the people of Haiti, the poorest country on the western hemisphere, has been significant. Sadly, Haiti is no stranger to natural disaster — in 2010, an earthquake devastated the nation and left over 200,000 people dead.
It’s hard to measure the effects of such a devastating natural disaster so soon after it occurs. It can take months, even years, to recover from such an event. For now, here’s what we know.
Hurricane Matthew in Haiti: Fast Facts
- Hurricane Warning issued Sunday, October 2; residents on outlying islands began to evacuate to mainland
- Hurricane made landfall on Tuesday, October 4
- Category 4 hurricane at the time of landfall
- Winds up to 125 mph reported
- Mainly affected southwestern coast of the country
- Major town of Jérémie 80% destroyed
- At least 842 dead; toll likely to rise
Some of the worst damage occurred in the isolated town of Jérémie, which was over 80% destroyed. Entire neighborhoods have been flattened, and the city now lies in rubble. Those who were unable to evacuate before the storm are left to fend for themselves on the streets until help arrives.
“We have nothing left. Our personal things, important documents like birth certificates — it’s all gone. We sleep on streets with our children and nobody came to help us until now,” one citizen was quoted as saying.
In the smaller towns and fishing villages around the western end of Haiti’s Tiburon Peninsula, many people were killed by flying debris, falling trees or flooding. To make matters worse, due to the collapse of the Ladigue bridge in the storm, many of these villages are now accessible only by air or boat, making them difficult for aid to reach.
The destruction of structures such as hospitals, churches and schools has left the devastated citizens without a place to congregate, adding to the confusion and chaos. Communication systems are down across the country, making it difficult for citizens to reach loved ones or call for help.
In addition to human lives lost, many livestock were killed and crops were destroyed in the storm — a devastating blow to the livelihoods of many in the impoverished nation.
Flooding has also led to concerns about cholera, a disease which killed over 10,000 people in the aftermath of Haiti’s 2010 earthquake.
In the aftermath of the storm, Haitians are reaching out, trying to help their neighbors in any way they can, some of them working through the night without rest.
Other countries have begun to send aid to Haiti. The U.S. Agency for International Development has sent $1 million to Haiti so far and has deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team to aid the victims. In the coming days, a joint task force is expected to join the aid efforts, lending military helicopters to transport personnel and deliver much-needed supplies to the area.
At the moment, residents of Haiti are most in need of food, clean water, temporary shelter and first aid. In the coming months, more aid will be needed to help clear debris and rebuild and repair homes and other structures damaged by the storm.
What You Can Do
If you wish to help the victims of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, there are several charitable organizations to donate to. In the coming weeks, the following organizations plan to send personnel, food and other much-needed supplies to the victims: