100 Days After Hurricane MatthewRich Stigall
100 days ago, Hurricane Matthew left the shores of Haiti, leaving a trail of devastation in its wake. Matthew struck southwest Haiti as a Category 4 storm, with winds in excess of 145 mph pummeling the country. For those in southwest Haiti, the toll was great. Homes were gone. Crops had been destroyed. Flooding was widespread, bringing with it severe risks of a cholera outbreak.
Specific to the orphaned and vulnerable children in the care of our local church partners in southwest Haiti, Matthew ultimately displaced more than 200 of them. Four villages sustained considerable damage with tin roofs ripped off by the winds, kitchens and homes leveled, and schools rendered inoperative.
Yet, despite the storm, not a single child in the care of our church partners was harmed. In preparation for and in response to the storm, our GO Haiti team quickly assessed damage and developed a two-phase plan to return children to their homes and to repair and rebuild the villages.
Every Child Home
We are pleased to report that phase one of the two-phase plan is complete, and all of the children have returned to their homes. To complete phase one, our GO Haiti team assessed the quality of each site to ensure that it met the standards of a habitable, safe environment. This assessment included a review of the housing and bathing facilities, evaluation of the kitchen and determination of food storage capabilities, and a reestablishment of access to a clean water source. Upon satisfactory achievement of each of these criterion, the children were returned to their respective homes.
Along with ending the temporary displacement, the homecoming also represented an important step in reducing the risk of cholera among the children in the care of our church partners.
Progress Reports from Villages in Southwest Haiti
Big House (Biggarouse): During the storm, the children found shelter at Cambry, one of our pioneer village partners in Haiti. The following repairs were required to return the children to their homes: roof replacement and masonry repair of the boys’ home, roof replacement of the girls’ home, roof repair of the cafeteria, and repairs to the water well.
Cassamajor: During the storm, the children of Cassamajor took shelter at the pastor’s home nearby. Despite the torrential rainfall, one of the rooms of the boys’ home was completely destroyed. The newly constructed storm shelter has been converted into a new boys’ home. The new boys’ home can also serve as an additional shelter in the event of another storm.
Darivager: Similar to the children at Biggarouse, the children of Darivager relocated to Cambry in preparation for and following Matthew. Repairs at Darivager included the following: roof repair of the boys’ home, roof repair of the girls’ home, reconstruction of the kitchen, and repairs to the water well.
La Hatte: The children of La Hatte took shelter at the onsite church, school and girls’ home. Repairs at La Hatte included roof replacement to the boys’ home, repairs to the load-bearing beams and walls in the girls’ home, roof replacement to the kitchen, roof repair and new water tanks for the latrine, and repairs to the water well’s solar system.
Many of you have also inquired about the conditions of the village in Leogane. While the eye of the storm did not pass over the village, the neighboring river swelled from excessive rainfall and significantly eroded portions of land at the village. This erosion resulted in evacuation of the children to a nearby site. No children were harmed, but damage sustained at the village resulted in ongoing assessment of the long-term viability of the property.
Phase Two: Repairs to Schools & Churches
Phase two of Hurricane Matthew relief and redevelopment involves repairs to the schools and churches. The extent of the remaining repairs varies by village. Many of the schools and churches only require roof patches and refurnishing of the schools. Other repairs are more extensive, such as an entire roof replacement on both the school and church at Darivager. However, regardless of the extent of repairs, we live in the assurance of the Lord’s love and faithfulness, confident that His provisions will be enough.
Humbled and Grateful
We are so grateful for those organizations who have aided the villages of our local church partners. Living Waters for the World repaired water wells at each site. Matthew 25: Ministries has committed to additional repairs and renovations at Darivager. LIFE SA employees in Tabarre made T-shirts to provide new clothes. US church partner First United Methodist Church in Shreveport, LA, has been a source of constant encouragement and information. Countless others helped to provide connections to needed resources. Moreover, we stood in awe as we watched so many Haitians care for their neighbors during this difficult time. For all of these efforts, we are thankful.
We praise the Lord for his protection during the storm and the return of the children to their homes. We are humbled and grateful to so many of you who prayed, gave, and shared about the plight of the children. Your gifts to the Haiti Relief Fund have had a direct impact on the timeliness of their return to their homes and the repairs at each village. Thank you.