October 8, 2016
Infamous Hurricane Matthew roared over the Plateau Tuesday into Wednesday.
The worst of it hit us during Tuesday night. While we thankfully did not suffer the extreme devastation that the south of Haiti experienced, we took a hard hit. All mud homes suffered some damage from the wind and rain stripping of the siding.
For most of them, the mud fell inside, covering belongings, making a huge mess, and exposing the people inside to the elements. Families moved from room to room looking for a place to stay dry and sheltered. Some houses can be patched up, others will need to be completely rebuilt.
After this woman’s porch blew down, the wind and rain had full access to her house. In the middle of the night, she took her boys and ran to the neighbor’s house (in the right background) to shelter and wait out the storm.
Two of these girls go to Lemuel’s school. Their house was one of the more badly stripped by the hurricane.
The ravine (usually dry) carried a colossal amount of raging rainwater runoff, far overflowing its banks. It rendered the road to Anse-Rouge completely impassible and irreparable by manual labor alone. (This is a picture after water levels had already gone DOWN, when it is still well overflowing its banks! This is the road.)
The violent water obliterated gardens. One family lost their entire plantain harvest. The flood waters carried away another family’s huge stockpile of charcoal to sell. Many gardens were flattened in layers of mud and filled with rocks carried by the water. (There are no pictures of this, because you cannot tell what you are looking at. It doesn’t look like anything!)
The water carried away livestock as well. Other livestock died from exposure to the elements. Some people lost up to 15 sheep at once. Losing livestock like this is the equivalent to suddenly losing hundreds of dollars out of your savings account. Others lost goats, pigs, donkeys…For people who are already struggling daily to survive, these losses of their very livelihood are devastating.
In preparation for the hurricane, we opened up the school and the church to receive people, and we established a committee of community members who were in place to respond to needs as they arose. They did such an amazing job! One man even walked around to people’s houses in the storm to see how they were doing and to urge them to seek shelter in the school if necessary.
On Wednesday, after the storm subsided, the committee took a small stockpile of food that we had stored in advance and made sacks of emergency provisions to hand out to families in the community.
On another positive note, we have TWO water holes full of water. Remember the huge water hole that I just recently told you about in this post?
It is FULL. Never before has it been full. The water that ran through the other smaller ravine was so high that the canal was able to carry it into the water hole. Full.
On Thursday afternoon, we sat down with our leadership staff to assess the situation and discuss our response. The major issues we are confronting include the destruction of the road, the loss of people’s gardens and livestock, and those homes that have been severely damaged. (Praise God that even as we speak, they are working to fix the road! That was one of our most immediate, urgent needs.)
We are listening to our community to determine what they consider to be their greatest losses and priority needs. We want our response not only to help our community repair the damage and restore things to the way they were, but to move us a step FORWARD–to take measures that will prevent the exact same thing from being repeated all over again in the future. We are still developing the details.
Please pray for us as we work towards this in the days ahead.
If you are interested in helping with hurricane recovery on the Plateau:
Extreme Response has set up a special fund for Lemuel to be used for hurricane recovery on the Plateau. Donations can be made through ER at http://extremeresponse.org/