Hurricane Matthew: Report #2 from Eglise Méthodiste d’Haiti

Hurricane Matthew: Report #2 from Eglise Méthodiste d’Haiti


To donate online:
UMC International Disaster Response Advance #982450
Or, The Methodist Church World Mission Fund
The last week has been very busy with 16-hour working days and hence, we have not had a chance to send out an update on the aftermath of the hurricane until now.

The EMH Bishop Gesner Paul was able to make an initial visit to Cayes and Jeremie over the weekend 9th-10th October to take food and other supplies and to assess the extent of need in the communities. The results indicated that apart from the main church and school in the town of Jeremie itself, the other churches and schools are without roofs and some have additional damage, and in most communities the homes are without roofs, too.

The crops have been lost and most trees have lost their branches leaving a landscape, throughout Jeremie and Leon, in which the trunks look like matchsticks standing upright.  Many animals have also been lost leaving small scale farmers and families without goats, chickens and pigs which are an important part of the local food chain. People are living off the fruit and vegetables from the ruined trees and plants, salvaging them before they go bad, and are now starting to get relief supplies of food into accessible communities. 

At Cayes, the situation is not much better and the needs of the people there are very great, too.  Several of the EMH staff here in Port au Prince have lost family members in the west of the country and are anxious about family members who are alive but have homes which no longer provide shelter from the elements. All along the coast, fishing boats have been lost. There is still very little information available from La Gonave.
During the past week everyone has been assisting the “Special Relief Group” to plan and implement a convoy with food, tarpaulins, clothes and other supplies – including medications that John has been assisting the Medical Depot storekeeper to assemble.  It was marvelous to see local folk bringing in boxes of clothing and utensils they had gathered to help the relief effort, and to see the youth of the church packaging up family size packets of food from huge sacks of rice, sugar etc. which had been bought by the church, and then to help loading them into the convoy trucks so that they could be distributed in several communities which are near the road to Jeremie.

We are thankful to All We Can who have funded most of the supplies in the medical depot, along with other donated medications from visiting groups. EMH was given permission to immediately dispatch these to the affected areas; as donations are received the supplies will be replaced in the depot. It is probable that there will be similar convoys with supplies in this way over the next 3-4 months at least. We will have more of an idea of how much help is reaching the areas affected from government and international aid agencies when the convoy returns tomorrow, and EMH will plan to meet the needs of communities which are not receiving much aid. There is also a need to provide roofing on buildings with stable walls so that there are places of shelter in each community, and hence, one of the next trips will involve taking roofing panels along with the food and other supplies.

It was also possible to send leaflets in Creole that were already printed by the health programme to explain how to put water into clear bottles and leave it in the sun for a day to make it safe for drinking to avoid transmission of cholera and other diarrhoeal diseases.

The next trip will also take a more detailed information Creole leaflet about cholera recognition, management and prevention, and we are grateful to TALC (Teaching Aids at Low Cost) and Hesperian for the information that goes into these resources.

Dr. Benjamin, the EMH health coordinator, left with the convoy shortly after we loaded the vehicles at about 5 a.m. this Saturday morning and will stay for a few days to help those trying to re-open the EMH clinic in Jeremie.  It was not damaged by wind or fallen trees, but the flood waters went right through and we hear there is much mud to be cleared out before it can be used. It will be necessary to see what equipment is still functional.  John meanwhile will continue to work with the depot storekeeper to prepare further relief medical supplies for all the communities where EMH has healthcare provision. 

Our ministers and pastors have been busy visiting bereaved families who have lost loved ones in the affected area. Every family has lost relatives or friends and church members are comforting one another.

We also attach a report from ABC News including information from an interview with the interim president of Haiti and some pictures of the devastated areas. 

Please continue to pray for support of the relief efforts, safety of the people and wisdom, strength and resilience to those responsible for each of the communities.  Pray also for the leadership of EMH as they seek to provide the most effective assistance they can with very limited resources.

  • Sharon and John Harbottle
16th October 2016