10th October 2016
The road through the mountains from Jeremie to Les Cayes, Haiti, snakes through a landscape where anything left standing remains wind-bent and stripped. It is as Pastor Carl Dimanche said it would be. The staple sources of food for Haiti’s southern peninsula are gone—most of the coconuts, bananas, rice, and beans washed away or destroyed. He’s afraid of the hunger that will strike Haiti.
“We will be hungry for a year,” he said with a sad smile.
Pastor Carl has led Living God Church for 30 years and has been a faithful friend of Samaritan’s Purse and Operation Christmas Child. Now he’s helping us to assess damage and post-hurricane needs, including the needs of his own congregation. Their worship building in Jeremie was leveled as Category 4 Hurricane Matthew churned violently along the peninsula. The city was cut off for days by landslide from the rest of Haiti
“We don’t have any roofs, no clothes, no food, no water. No shoes because they got blown away by the wind. But at least we are still alive,” said Pastor Dimanche, as he recounts that a church member lost 12 goats. “These people don’t have bank accounts. The crops and these animals were their bank accounts.”
Many residents fled uphill well in advance and escaped the storm surge, but no one escaped the wind. Many houses near the water crumbled into rubble. Now residents are left to assemble and dry their belongings—using cross beams to dry their clothes. Some children sit reading their drying school books.
People are still in search of loved ones as the death count rises to more than 1,000.
From our bases in Jeremie and Les Cayes, we are completing needs assessments and distributing hygiene kits, heavy-duty plastic sheeting, and water filtration systems. Our mobile medical team also is canvassing communities providing first aid and identifying communities vulnerable to cholera and other water-borne illnesses. [We airlifted 40 tonnes of relief supplies to Haiti on 6 and 7 October].
“There’s definitely cholera. It’s endemic in Haiti and since the storm there’ve been as many as 13 cholera-related deaths,” Dr. Lance Plyler said from Les Cayes. A Samaritan’s Purse staff member, the doctor remembers the 2010 earthquake and subsequent cholera epidemic that killed 10,000. “Our job is to prevent cholera through education. It’s very possible to prevent.”
This is why we are distributing hygiene kits and water filtration systems to more than 4,000 households in Jeremie, Les Cayes, and surrounding areas.
Pastor Pierre Julien, ministry program manager for Samaritan’s Purse-Haiti, grew up in Jeremie.
“It’s a city where you can count money in the street. Everybody knows everybody,” said Pastor Pierre. “I left Monday morning and Monday evening the hurricane hit. Pastor Carl [Dimanche]—I stayed at his house; I taught at his church. It’s amazing what can happen in a day. Your life can change in a matter of a couple of minutes.”
Please pray for the people of Haiti as they recover from this latest natural disaster. Pray for wisdom and boldness as our teams bring relief in Jesus’ Name.