Rushing waters in the night
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.
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.
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.
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.