Hurricane Matthew, One Year Later
One year ago, Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti, bringing devastating wind, rain, and storm surges to communities where day-to-day life was already precarious. MCC Haiti responded in the first 48 hours, and then, in the weeks and months that followed, implemented food security and health projects to address the long-term effects of the storm. One year later, we're revisiting some of these stories.
October 5, 2016
Sitting right at sea level, [the Voudray neighbourhood of Cite Soleil] suffered the effects of high winds, rain and a storm surge, where most people were already struggling to get by day-to-day. The three women pictured above are all homeowners whose homes were destroyed by Hurricane Mathew. The rain and rising River Gris washed away their houses, possessions, livestock, and gardens, taking with them their livelihoods. “Yesterday we lost everything, our chickens, our pig, and our garden, this is how I eat, this is how I feed my children, this is how I keep them safe at night,” said Sarditren Dete.
October 9, 2016
[Oudle Polais] tells me that he had to be very strong during the storm, because his mother was very sick and his little sister and 3 little brothers looked up to him. "I wasn't scared, when our wall above the kitchen fell in," he says. I tell him that I was scared during the storm, and he breaks out a shy smile. "Ok, I guess I was a little scared too," he says.
November 2, 2016
When a local government official in Verrettes was asked why his region showed no damage on the latest UN maps, he grew frustrated. "How would they even know? No one has come up to look. No one has even asked!" In co-operation with the local government and local parters, MCC participated in an assessment of the damage, which showed that Verrettes commune alone had documented losses of 1,300 animals and approximately 361 acres of crops.
November 9, 2016
Residents of Wopisa lost their few latrines to the hurricane, and they fear the disease’s resurgence; up to thirty percent of their community has already contracted the disease. For remote communities like Wopisa that are reachable only by foot or donkey, it can take hours for the sick to reach the nearest health center, by which time it may be too late.
To address the immediate need to improve sanitation, MCC is providing materials and expert oversight for 250 families across eight communities to build latrines. Families will also receive hygiene training and supplies. Jean Remy Azor, the program director for MCC’s reforestation program, shared, “When I told the community leader [about the latrine project] he started crying. They have lost so much [already] to cholera and other diseases. After the Hurricane they are so afraid of cholera coming back in a big way, but these latrines give hope that this will not happen.”
December 12, 2016
After Hurricane Matthew, MCC approached the remote community of Wopisa-Gabriyel to discover how it might provide assistance. Because of risks owing to waterborne diseases including cholera, the community identified latrine construction as its most pressing need: “We can’t drink our water safely. We can’t care for our children. We can’t protect our families,” said Previl. They saw better sanitation as a necessary building block for further community development and recovery.
One road, two outcomes
May 3, 2017
“Working with partners is a great idea because it allows us to embed our work in the community and then you’re building something with the capacity for it to keep going.
MCC doesn’t just want to do good or provide help. We see ourselves as having a greater mission: we want to build capacity, we want to help people so that they don’t feel that North Americans or foreigners have to come in and save them. So in working with local partners, when MCC’s gone, there’s that community-level trust and capacity, and that makes so much difference in how we do development.”
July 5, 2017
Amidst this destruction and loss there was no doubt that these communities needed help after the Hurricane: help replanting destroyed gardens, and treating family members sick with cholera, help repairing damaged schools and digging new latrines, help replacing lost livestock and starting to rebuild lost income, help feeding their families while gardens regrew. But these were not helpless people and broken communities, they were resilient and strong.
MCC Haiti and its partner organizations have spent the past year walking alongside some of the most vulnerable people in Haiti as they rebuild their livelihoods after Hurricane Matthew. As we look back on these stories of resilience and hope, we're also at work responding to similar communities in the wake of Hurricane Irma. We invite you to support MCC's work in these areas by making a donation to MCC's Hurricane Irma relief fund.