Welcome to MCC Haiti.

Rushing waters in the night

Rushing waters in the night

Osa Jonmaritus stands in front of his home in Lachapelle, Haiti, just hours after Hurricane Irma brought flash flooding to his community and washed he and his family out of their home in the night. Osa, a community health organizer shared with the MCC assessment team that he is worried that cholera, which had already been on the rise in the region before the hurricane, will be exacerbated by the recent floods. Photo/Annalee Giesbrecht

Osa Jonmaritus stands in front of his home in Lachapelle, Haiti, just hours after Hurricane Irma brought flash flooding to his community and washed he and his family out of their home in the night. Osa, a community health organizer shared with the MCC assessment team that he is worried that cholera, which had already been on the rise in the region before the hurricane, will be exacerbated by the recent floods. Photo/Annalee Giesbrecht

Asleep the night of September 7th, Osa Jonmaritus and his family did not sense the flood waters rushing into their mud and stone home until they began to cover them in their own beds. Placing their smallest children on their shoulders, Osa and his wife waded, with their four children, through waist-deep floodwaters uphill for several hours in pouring rains before reaching the safer home of a family member on higher ground. Their story is not unique as Hurricane Irma's rains have brought devastating flash flooding to the mountainous communities of La Chapelle, Haiti.  

Flooding caused by Hurricane Irma reached almost a third of the way up the walls of Osa Jonmarits' home in Otovan, La Chapelle commune. Floodwaters can be easily contaminated by cholera and other waterborne diseases when poorly constructed latrines overflow in heavy rains.  Photo/Annalee Giesbrecht

Flooding caused by Hurricane Irma reached almost a third of the way up the walls of Osa Jonmarits' home in Otovan, La Chapelle commune. Floodwaters can be easily contaminated by cholera and other waterborne diseases when poorly constructed latrines overflow in heavy rains.  Photo/Annalee Giesbrecht

The Jonmaritus family returned to their home the next day to find walls crumbling, livestock dead, and their surrounding garden and fruit trees swept away by the murky flood waters. Most of their belongings had been destroyed or washed away, including school materials and uniforms for their children— a huge cost to the family, and a necessity for attendance.

The destruction of gardens in La Chappelle commune means a significant loss of income for many residents. Without the income from garden produce, many families will not be able to afford school fees for the coming school year.  Photo/Annalee Giesbrecht

The destruction of gardens in La Chappelle commune means a significant loss of income for many residents. Without the income from garden produce, many families will not be able to afford school fees for the coming school year.  Photo/Annalee Giesbrecht

When Irma struck Haiti with gusting winds and torrential rains, water rushed down mountains into ravine communities like Otovan, bringing destruction and potential for disease in its wake. Osa Jonmaritus was one of many who shared his story with MCC staff during an initial disaster assessment on Friday afternoon, just hours after the rains had stopped. 

Floods in Lachappelle commune swept away entire gardens, destroying valuable crops like plantains and corn whose remains are seen wrapped around a tree. Without the income from these crops, many families will not be able to purchase seeds for the next planting season or pay school fees for their children. Photo/Annalee Giesbrecht

Floods in Lachappelle commune swept away entire gardens, destroying valuable crops like plantains and corn whose remains are seen wrapped around a tree. Without the income from these crops, many families will not be able to purchase seeds for the next planting season or pay school fees for their children. Photo/Annalee Giesbrecht

Osa's story was not unique in his community after the Hurricane. Many families were forced in the night to seek higher ground; scrambling up the mountain, climbing into trees, onto roofs, or even placing children on rafters when water in their homes was too high to allow escape. 

While the worst of Hurricane Irma passed Haiti by, for many of these families, the road to recovery ahead is daunting.  MCC's response began with material aid distributions to 90 families, including Osa's, who lost everything in the flood. MCC is preparing to mount a larger food security response in the same communities, including the distribution of food assistance and seeds, so people can replant their gardens. Please join MCC in walking alongside these communities as they rebuild their lives once more.

Osa Jonmarits receives material aid from MCC at a distribution point in the town of La Chapelle the next day. MCC material aid included comforters, an MCC relief bucket, and water purification tablets.  Photo/Annalee Giesbrecht

Osa Jonmarits receives material aid from MCC at a distribution point in the town of La Chapelle the next day. MCC material aid included comforters, an MCC relief bucket, and water purification tablets.  Photo/Annalee Giesbrecht

Faces of the storm

Faces of the storm

Hurricane Irma: Wading through the aftermath

Hurricane Irma: Wading through the aftermath