Help for the people of Haiti

A survivor is carried to safety through a flooded street. Photos: LWF Haiti
A survivor is carried to safety through a flooded street. Photos: LWF Haiti

Hurricane Matthew causes destruction, death in the Caribbean

The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) together with local partners is preparing to assist the communities in Haiti affected by Hurricane Matthew. The category 4 hurricane hit the south of Haiti on Tuesday morning, 4 October, with strong winds, heavy rains, mudslides and flashfloods, causing massive destruction in the poorest country on the American continent.

With wind speeds of 230 kilometers per hour, Matthew is estimated to be the worst hurricane to hit Haiti in the last 10 years. It made landfall close to the town of Les Anglais. Local media reports massive damage and at least four people confirmed dead. The main bridge connecting the capital Port-au-Prince to the affected areas in the south has been destroyed, phone and internet lines have been interrupted. As Haiti recovers from the 2010 earthquake, thousands of people still live in tents.

“The most affected groups are those most vulnerable living in areas along the coast, in low lying areas or close to steep slopes,” says Sylvie Savard, Country Representative in the joint office of LWF and Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe in Haiti. “Many people, especially in rural areas, live in poorly constructed homes that could not stand up to the winds and rains. People have been evacuated to save their lives, but the storm and the floods will have swept away what little they have.” The LWF team is standing by to distribute shelter material and hygiene kits.

LWF field staff have been seeking shelter and are now ready to provide relief together with ACT Alliance partners. The team is affected as well. Staff members reported that their houses or those of close family were destroyed or severely damaged. “Almost all our team are national staff,” says Savard.

“Six years ago they were in the middle of a massive disaster. Experiencing this situation causes additional stress. We are making sure they receive the support they need, as they are launching an emergency response and at the same time might need to house relatives or assist elderly parents.”

Haiti is situated in a hurricane corridor and on a geological fault line. The country is one of the poorest in the world and extremely vulnerable to natural disaster.

Trees felled by the storm in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince. Photos: LWF Haiti

 

People run for shelter in the flooded streets of St Jean du Sud, on the southern coast of Haiti.

 

A gas station in Miragouane was badly damaged.

A bridge washed out at Petit Goave. This bridge provided main access to the affected areas. Its destruction has cut off the road, preventing delivery of relief goods.

 

LWF has been present in Haiti since 2005, providing relief to survivors of the earthquake. In 2014 it joined offices with German partner Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe. Both are now coordinating emergency operations together.

ACT Alliance has issued an alert and is calling for donations to support the emergency response of LWF/DKH and its partners.