Hurricane Matthew strikes Haiti: we respond

October 6, 2016

Damage assessments are ongoing in hard-to-reach areas, but Concern’s response is underway

Hurricane Matthew made landfall in Haiti on Tuesday bringing 140 mph winds, storm surges, and pummeling rains.

The strongest Caribbean storm in a decade deluged communities, flooding streets, destroying key infrastructure — even causing the collapse of the La Digue bridge, the critical link along the national highway between capital city Port-au-Prince and the hardest hit areas in the island’s southern peninsula.

Child walks through flooded waters in Port-au-Prince

Hurricane Matthew brought heavy rains and flooding to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The category 4 hurricane is the largest to hit the Caribbean since 2007. Photo: Andrew McConnell/Panos Pictures

With thousands of homes damaged and the persistent risk of flooding and landslides, more than more than 15,000 people have sought safety in 152 shelters across the country. In the densely populated coastal neighborhood of Cité Soleil, the high risk of water-borne diseases and growing food insecurity present an extreme threat, especially to the most vulnerable — a pattern that will play out in other impacted areas across the country.

Hurricance Matthew brings heavy rains and flooding to Carrefour, Haiti. The category 4 hurricane is the largest to hit the Caribbean since 2007. Photo: Andrew McConnell/Panos Pictures

The hurricane is the worst disaster to impact Haiti since it was devastated by a deadly earthquake six years ago. In total, the UN estimates that more than one million people have been affected and more than 350,000 are in immediate need of assistance.

“For us, now that the storm has passed, the real work begins.”

Concern has worked in Haiti since 1994 and has responded repeatedly to major disasters there, including the 2010 earthquake and 2008 hurricanes. “People have just come through the most horrific earthquake in recent memory. They’ve been hit by cholera epidemics and now are facing this,” said Haiti Country Director Nellie Kingston. “The people of Haiti are amazingly resilient, but there is a feeling of ‘why us?’”

concern-haiti-update-cholera

With damage to homes and serious flooding in Cité Soleil, the risk for Cholera — especially among children is high. Photo: Andrew McConnell/Panos Pictures

Concern is distributing supplies for communities in urgent need. “There is a very severe risk of a rise in people getting cholera,” explains Kingston. The lethal water-borne disease killed over 10,000 people after the devastating earthquake in 2010 that claimed over 300,000 lives.

This weekend our 130 Haiti-based staff members will be joined by experts from Concern’s rapid deployment unit. Together we will continue to give out essential items like water cleaning tablets, and blankets, while partnering with other aid agencies to help those living through this emergency.

As our team of humanitarians brings essential relief to those hit hardest by Hurricane Matthew. Please help us increase our ability to support vulnerable communities in Haiti.