Provisional report post Hurricane Matthew (unofficial)

October 11, 2016

By: Michel Guillemette, Haiti advisor and project manager with Emergency Relief Fund—Haiti
​Roncalli International Foundation

1- Context 

The Category 4 tropical cyclone (235 km/h) known as Hurricane Matthew passed over Haiti on October 4, 2016. The eye made direct contact with the southwest coast of the country, specifically with the town of Les Anglais. The slow movement of the hurricane has resulted in massive damage.

2- 1st impression

The storm has devastated half of the country, the Sud Department and more.

The most severe damage occurred in the region from Petit-Goâve to Jérémie. This region is around 200 km long and 30 km wide.

3- Loss of human life

Between 300 (according to the authorities) and 1000 (according to other sources) reported casualties. No information is available from the south coast, which was the most severely hit.

4- Material losses

  • Around 80% destruction of roofs of thousands of homes, schools, churches, health centres and hospitals; 
  • Total destruction of houses;
  • Furniture and school supplies;
  • Livestock: many animals losses belonging to the farmers’ “bank”;
  • Flooded gardens, lost harvests, destroyed seeds;
  • Many trees destroyed, accelerating the process of deforestation, which is already an issue in the area;
  • Destruction of drinking water supply systems in towns and villages;
  • Road infrastructure, etc.

5- Access

 A major issue at this time. We’re starting to re-establish land routes that were destroyed, such as the bridge at Petit-Goâve, which will allow for transportation and delivery of aid supplies to Les Cayes and Jeremie.

The south coast is the most affected area. 4x4 vehicles arrived at Port-à-Piment only last Sunday. There are no transportation routes open from Chardonnières towards Les Anglais and Tiburon.

6- Schools 

Schools and other public services in the affected areas are closed; their structures are being used as temporary shelters for displaced persons.

7-  The numbers

  • Affected population: 1 million people
  • Affected families: 115,000
  • People in temporary shelters: 175,000
  • Temporary shelters: 224
  • Children with no access to schools: 100,000
  • Family homes: 80% destroyed
  • Schools destroyed: 300
  • Deaths: Over 300
  • Injured: thousands
  • Cholera victims: several
  • Sections of road destroyed
  • Drinking water supply systems damaged 

Sources of information

  • Le Nouvelliste (Haitian newspaper)
  • Radio Métropole Haiti
  • Press releases, including from CECI
  • Radio 32. Local radio on the ground

8- Most affected regions

  • Port-au-Prince: damage mostly caused by heavy rains. Flooding has occurred in working-class neighbourhoods in the lower parts of the city, such as Cité Soleil, home to almost half a million people, but life seems to be returning to normal since Thursday October 6;
  • Region of Hinche/Central Plateau: spared, no serious damage reported;
  • Northern regions: wind and rain, minimal damage reported;
  • Port-de-Paix region: more affected than Cap-Haitïen, but no major damage reported at the moment;
  • Grand Sud region: catastrophic devastation for the population, which is literally out on the street with no shelter, food or drinking water. At least 50% of the houses have sustained damage and possibly more, according to recent photos from Le Nouvelliste newspaper.
  • The area the most severely affected area by the wind and rain: from Les Cayes toward the southwest point of the island, especially villages located between Port Salut and Tiburon, including Torbeck, Jérémie, Damarie, Les Irois and Anse d’Haineault. The region between PAP and Les Cayes sustained somewhat less damage. 

9- Actions on the ground

Regarding the political authorities of Haiti, the National System of Risk and Disaster Management (SNGRD) consists of:

  • The Department of Civil Protection (DPC), headed by Ms. A. Jean-Baptiste, which will manage all other first responders on the ground: the Ministries (MPCE, Interior and Finance), UN, foreign countries, NGOs, etc. They seem to be setting up a coordination system. The government is trying to show good leadership, following the bad experience after the earthquake. 
  • The National Emergency Operations Centre (COUN). These operation centres exist in many towns throughout the country’s 10 departments.
  • A “coordination unit” has been specially assembled at the airport to coordinate humanitarian aid; this is composed of: DPC, Ministries of Planning (MPCE), Interior and Finance, and the NGO Coordination Unit.
  • MINUSHTA and USA resources are being used.

10- Aid provided on the ground

  • Distribution of hygiene kits, dried food and water throughout Les Cayes by the Red Cross and some NGOs like CECI, coordinated by the authorities. Much remains to be done; the affected population is thirsty and hungry and showing frustration.
  • UN helicopters delivered Canadian food aid to Les Cayes and Jérémie yesterday, but managing distribution is a challenge for the authorities. Because of the situation of total deprivation and loss, these operations require police and military management. 
  • Some routes are clear enough to allow aid to get through, but much remains to be done.

11- Priorities

  • Coordinate aid and people’s ability and willingness to help;
  • Clear transportation routes;
  • Ensure an adequate response to the needs of the affected populations and respect local government structures;
  • Controlling the cholera outbreak is essential.

12- Needs expressed according to the three response phases

Short term : 
Emergency response immediately after the hurricane: re-establishing transportation access, distribution of emergency kits to families, water and dry foods, visiting families in temporary shelters, caring for the injured, making up balance sheets, etc.

N.B. Only the authorities and some NGOs are prepared to participate in these delicate first response efforts. Other organizations must limit their aid provision to the middle-term, namely, reconstruction.

Middle and long term: 
Rehabilitation of affected communities by rebuilding infrastructure: buildings, roads, water systems, not to mention providing psychological support

13- Affected religious communities

  • «Schools’ rooftops that have been blown away by the violent winds remain a major handicap, which prevent children to go back to school. Most children lost everything for the most part and their parents lack financial means after the passage of the hurricane. 
  • One week after the hurricane, life is becoming harder and harder; numerous families are living in sub-human situations, for example: no drinking water, not enough food, no roof to sleep, no health center to go to in case of disease, and communication means are difficult. Even for those who have money it is difficult to find somewhere to buy supplies if thirsty or hungry.
  • The Haitian Religious Conference through the means of certain religious communities offers some products to the victims of the hurricane. However, they would like to organize a distribution in 22 days with three trucks of staple commodities, which represents a truck by department (for the South, Grand’Anse and the Nippes).
  • Seen the extent of the damages, no religious community is capable of making an exhaustive account.
  • The farmers lost everything (cattle, gardens, houses, fishing equipment, etc.). In other words, they have been empty-handed for a week now. We ardently wish to offer them seeds for plantations, which will allow them in three to four months to have enough sustenance. "

Father PELTROP Gilbert, C.Ss.R
Gnl Sec of the CHR

14- Aid requests are starting to reach us

  • FODES-5
  • Les Petits Frères de Sainte-Thérèse
  • Médecins du Monde

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