When Hurricane Matthew made landfall in Haiti on Oct. 4, it devastated part of the country and destroyed thousands of homes. The United Nations estimates that more than 2.1 million people have been affected, of whom 1.4 million need immediate help. For these families, who were already living in extreme poverty, the next few months are going to be very hard.
In southern Haiti, Handicap International staff met Josie and Moise, who shared their stories from the storm. For Moise, it was the generosity of a close acquaintance with a concrete house that saved him from spending the night outside, after the hurricane swept his own home away.
Josie Pierre, 22, Ravine, Charles, in the commune of Jérémie, Haiti
“Everyone around here has lost everything. The house where I used to live with my mother and two nephews has been destroyed. The corrugated roof was torn off and the walls collapsed. My uncle’s house and my cousin’s house were both destroyed by the hurricane. As far as I know, all of the houses around here were destroyed in the hurricane. Only four homes are still standing.
"We lost all of our cattle. All of our cows, pigs, goats and poultry. I don’t know how we are going to survive now that we have nothing left. I’ve never experienced a disaster like this. We are trying to recover the corrugated sheets and debris from houses to build shelters where we can spend the night.”
Moise Clarel, 77, Port-Salut, Haiti
“A strong wind was blowing here from 6 o’clock on Monday night. My house collapsed in the middle of the following night after the corrugated roof was torn off and water rushed into the house. I wanted to take refuge with one of my sons, but his house was destroyed too.
"When day broke, I realized that all of the houses in the area had been flattened. We’re eating the fruit we managed to save but in a few days we won’t have anything else to eat. And our cattle have been wiped out by the hurricane. Today we’re having to drink the river water because it’s cleaner than the well water.”
After Hurricane Matthew, Handicap International mobilized its Haiti staff of 100, and moved emergency teams into the country at the end of the week. Their priorities are to deliver aid to the most vulnerable people and provide rehabilitation care to the injured, and psychosocial support to people suffering from trauma. The organization is also organizing the distributions of sheets and rope that families can use to build shelters; Cooking kits; water purification tablets; and, special aids like crutches and walking frames.