1962: Responding to Disasters
Men anpil, chay pa lou.
"Many hands make the load lighter."
Over the last 60 years, MCC has worked alongside Haitian partners, putting our hands together in healing suffering, cultivating the soil, supporting the vulnerable, and holding on to peace. In 2018, MCC in Haiti will celebrate this legacy through a series of six stories highlighting each decade.
The beginnings of MCC's work in Haiti were connected to disaster response, as MCC's initial delegation to Haiti was in response to Hurricane Hazel in 1957. On October 3, 1962, just 4 years after beginning work in Haiti, MCC responded to the aftermath of Hurricane Flora in south of the country.
1962: Hurricane Flora
2010: Earthquake in Port-au-Prince
The earthquake on January 12 2010 devastated Port-au-Prince and the surrounding communities. MCC built on decades of experience with both short- and long-term disaster response in mounting the largest disaster response in the history of MCC in Haiti.
First person account: "Dapre gwo experyans nou te fe apre evenman 12 Janvier, te telman en moun ki nan nesesite, moun kay yo te kraze pedi tout sa yo te gen ou sitiyasyon kit e vreman difisil. Gouvenman te bay yon otorizasyon pasyel pou empote ed materyel nan kad ijan, men sa te vin rive nan yon moman ak ladwann li pat fasil pou nou jewnn ed sa yo an ijans, vreman poun pote sekou. Nou te aprann anpil sou sityasyon sou poun stoke ed materyel nan biwo MCC pou nou ki gen tan pote sekou vit vit le gen yon sitiyasyon dezas ki vini."
"Since the impact of the experience of January 12th, an event that caused many to lose their homes, people were experiencing a very difficult situation. The government gave a partial authorization for importing material aid in the case of emergency, but this came at a time when it was difficult to get things through customs and even to find aid for us to hand out in the crisis. We learned a lot about stocking material aid at the office now so that we are able to disperse the aid quickly if a disaster comes."
—Herve Alcinna, Logistics Manager, MCC Port-au-Prince
2016: Hurricane Matthew
More than 7 years after the earthquake, Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti on October 4, 2017. A category four hurricane, Matthew was the worst storm to hit Haiti in 50 years. MCC responded with projects in Southern Haiti, in urban Port-au-Prince and in the mountainous communities of the Artibonite.
"For us, as important as the work we do after a disaster, is how we do it. We want to be responsive to the needs of vulnerable communities, we want to respond quickly and efficiently and we want to respond to disasters in a way that is consistent with MCC's values. Given Haiti's vulnerability to disasters, this means we also need to keep assessing how we can improve. After the earthquake, this meant pre-positioning aid in Haiti to make rapid responses possible."
—Rebecca Shetler Fast, MCC Haiti Country Representative
2017: Hurricane Irma
Less than a year after Hurricane Matthew, Haiti experienced heavy rainfall and damage from Hurricane Irma. Affecting already vulnerable families in the rural Artibonite, rainfall from Irma destroyed gardens, livestock, and livelihoods as a result of flash flooding.
"I think it is not only important but necessary for MCC to work in the Artibonite, because there are many hurricanes every year and they hit some areas especially hard. In my opinion, the people in charge aren't always there when this happens. There were many people in the mountains who won't get any help after a hurricane, and MCC works in those remote and hard-hit places with the people who are in the most need."
—Jean Remy Azor, Program Coordinator MCC Desarmes
In addition to larger disaster response projects, MCC responds, as we are able, to smaller disasters, such as an October 2017 fire in the Boulard neighborhood of Port-au-Prince.