Hurricane Matthew News Update: Aftermath in Haiti
4th October 2016
“The Southwest section of Haiti was hit extremely hard, leaving communities like Dame Marie, Jeremie, and Les Cayes decimated by the storm.”
The damage in Haiti
· The death toll more than 1,000 according to Reuters
· 350,000 people were and still are in need of immediate assistance
· 60,000 people in temporary shelters
· Severe flooding in 11 communes (townships) with significant mudslides and flash floods as well as landslides and damage to roads and infrastructure. The storm has had its biggest impact in rural areas, namely the departments of South, Grande-Anse, particularly in the communes of Jérémie and Les Cayes (south), with 75% of homes having lost their roofs.
· House damage: over 29,000 houses are destroyed or severely damaged.
· Public infrastructure: majority of port infrastructures in the Sud Department are damaged, collapse of Petit Goave Bridge has isolated communities in South, Nippes and Grand’Anse.
· Livelihoods: The World Food Programme estimates that up to 80% of harvest is lost in some areas.
David Greenwood Haigh
A Wakefield based chocolatier buys much of his cocoa from Dame Marie in South west Haiti and struck up a friendship with Linda Brooks a former chef, from York originally, who works in Dame Marie with Solidarity Dame-Marian helping children to access education.
When Matthew hit Linda explained The national highway runs along the coast, all the way up from Dame Marie through three or four other cities beyond it. And all those houses are gone’. Linda begins.
‘Every single home along the coast for miles and miles and miles are gone. That’s hundreds of homes. They’re all completely wiped out. You would never even know that there were houses there. All you have now is sand and conk shells.’
people lived in those homes. It’s really crucial now that we find some kind of alternative, that we get tarps in there. It’s going to be really important to get some sort of tent city set up.’
Walking around an area on the edge of Dame Marie it is clear that it isn’t just homes that had been destroyed. What appears to be school books laid out in orderly rows to dry in the Haitian sun, suggests that many of its schools have fared little better.
Nearby a felled tree has become a makeshift washing line - shaken inhabitants are still sifting and salvaging their precious possessions from the storms debris.
‘In the city centre homes are also damaged’ Linda continues. 'They haven’t completely fallen down but they are severely damaged. They have structure, the walls mostly, but they’ve all lost their roofs.’
What could we do?
David received a email from chantelle Cody of Rococo chocolate in London saying she had been offered some bicycles but thought they would be of more use to Haiti David called Linda in DM who said yes as the roads are very difficult just now and bikes would help.
David started to ring round the chocolate community and his friends and quickly got a contact in Scotland who had access to school equipment and the 100 reconditioned bicycles and sports kits the next task was to find a 40ft shipping container get it sea worthy packed and then shipped to Haiti.
Pay the port fees. But all that cost money (£3000) so back to the chocolate friends
One made a Haiti project mould
Another set up a group of young people to make and sell the bars
Several gave chocolate
And the Haiti chocolate project was in motion.
After 2 months of work the group have raised the necessary cash to get the container moving.
The container is en-route and due in Port au Prince in July.
The youth group in Fareham plan to continue to support the school in Dame Marie and hope to help replant the cocoa trees that were devastated by Matthew and eventually vist and meet the pupils and teachers at the school.