Haiti Hurricane Relief
(Completed Project - 2008)
Lost, vulnerable, helpless, desperate—if you are a Haitian right now, this is how it feels. First you took shelter in your house, trying frantically to save some of your things and keep your family around you in the chaos of the rising water. When parts of your house give way and crumble, you’re exposed to the driving wind and pelting rain. You drop what you’ve picked up to save, and grab your family members instead and try to stay together, fighting the raging surge of water that would sweep you away. Much later, after the wind and rain die down, you realize that your home and few belongings have been swept away by the surging waters. Muddy brown water and rooftops are all you can see. You are exhausted, hungry and thirsty…and so is the rest of your family. You have nowhere to turn!
Reality—Hurricanes Blindside Helpless People and Destroy Communities
People in Haiti have had to live through this reality three times this month. They had no warning, because in most of Haiti there is no electricity, and most people have no phones. There is no emergency evacuation system. The UN and Haitian government sources report that over the past three weeks, hurricanes Fay, Gustav and Hanna have killed more than 475 people in Haiti. This has caused serious flooding and put as many as 800,000 in need of help. The Public Health department has not been able to access the flooded areas in order to evaluate potential problems for epidemic outbreaks. Relief agencies are trying to help, but conditions are challenging as the water has destroyed bridges and caused landslides which hamper rescue operations. Some of the worst affected areas are in Gonaïves, Cabaret, Hinche and Jacmel. The port city of Gonaïves has been turned into an island, stranding residents who can do nothing but wait for help. Access outside Gonaïves to other areas remains virtually impossible.
Hundreds of Haitians in flooded areas have lost everything they owned, and in many cases have lost family members. People are in shock, unable to process what’s happened to them. In Cabaret, one grief-torn woman, upon finding the lifeless body of her 7 year old daughter in the water, pleaded with photographers recording the general devastation to take a picture of her - “I’ve lost everything! If you take a picture of her, I’ll be able to see her even after she’s buried.”
Response—Immediate Help with Aid
Our in-country partners have contacted us with an urgent request to help them as they reach out to desperate, needy people. GAiN provided Emergency Response packages that contained water purification tablets, food items like rice, beans, canned meat and fish, cooking oil and personal hygiene supplies.