Dear Friends of Hands Together,
On September 2nd I received the last possible email (before the electricity went out) from our headquarters in Gonaives. Father Gerard Dormevil who runs our programs outside of Port-au-Prince wrote to tell me that
"Tropical storm Hannah has put us in the same situation that came with hurricane Jeanne in 2004 -- the entire first floor of the office complex is under water - we are looking to see what we can do to cope. I will call you tomorrow - Gerard"
On the same day Father Tom wrote me from P-au-P, "Doug...It is 5pm and we have not been able to get contact with Girard. What is being told to us is that it is worst than the other one that killed 3,000...helicopters can't even land..."
On September 3rd Tom spoke with our staff up in Gonaives and learned that "Girard is on the top floor of our office and really can't get out without a boat. Water has covered most of Gonaives. The Missionary Sisters of Charity tell me that people have died at their place. I also understand that no vehicles can reach Goanaive.
I have been in telephone contact with Father Gerard since September 2nd and can tell you that Gonaives and the surrounding villages is under 6-10 feet of water. 150,000 have been displaced, almost no vehicles can operate and there is very little access to drinking water, food, shelter and basic human needs. There is no way to reach the city by vehicle because the roads from ST. Marc to Gonaives are flooded out.
On September 5th, several of our Gonaives staff made it to our center using a back road via Hinche and Mirebalais and down into P-au-P. We purchased drums and filled them with fuel and water, and gave them food to bring back to our folks in Gonaives. Thankfully, our large dump truck and back hoe loader was in Port-au-Prince and not in Gonaives where we keep it most of the time. They brought these vehicles back to Gonaives and now Gerard is busy coordinating relief efforts from the Bassen Center where there is water and food.
I planned on driving to Gonaives on Monday - September 8, but we learned that the bridge in Mirebalais collapsed, making the drive impossible.
Now IKE is dousing Gonaives with more rain, (and also Cite Soleil) and making it impossible to drive up there at this time.
Our plan is to drive to Gonaives on September 15 with a caravan of vehicles, our water truck filled with 2,000 gallons of drinking water, our other vehicles filled with food and medicine and household needs, some portable generators for power. We will work with Gerard to coordinate outreach efforts. We can fill the water truck from our cisterns in Basen and make trips back and forth to the city to deliver life saving water.
I enclosed some photos of the devastation that were sent to Fr. Tom a few days ago.
We ask for your prayers and we hope that God will give us the strength to help so many recover from such destruction.