On Thursday, November 4, reports of Hurricane Tomas bearing down on Haiti prompted us to prepare for yet another major crisis and disaster in Port-au-Prince. In a year filled with the earthquake, cholera, and violence, we wondered how much more suffering will the Haitian people endure.
The impending storm forced us to act quickly; our staff created a plan to help those in greatest danger from the storm. The rains pounded Port-au-Prince on early Saturday and heavily again in the afternoon. All throughout the day, HT buses, dump trucks and large trucks evacuated several hundred elderly and families from the seaside slums areas of Norway and Soleil 24.
Our office in Port-au-Prince became an emergency food, clothing and supplies distribution center. HT staff filled plastic bags with rice and beans and used donated bed linens to create hygiene kits filled with soap and shampoo. Throughout the our staff worked to help residents of Cite Soleil and Delmas through the following acitivities:
- gave out 787 food kits;
- distributed over 478 hygien packages;
- relocated several hundred residents to the second floors of our school buildings;
In the seaside slum neighborhoods of Bellicous and Brea Neuf we put elderly people into the second floors of our Becky DeWine School.
Our dump truck continues to bring loads of gravel to help fill in areas where rains destroyed roads and paths. Our water truck will continue bringing drinking water to the many slum areas where Hands Together runs schools and elderly outreach programs.
In the Wharf Jeremy area (a seaside slum area where we are building an new school) one person was killed from flooding and surging sea water. On Sunday, November 7, we learned that the town of Leogone was under 3-4 feet of water -- and people to whom we gave food after the earthquake will need our help once again. We will organize a food and linen distribution during during the week of November 10-15.
Gonaives troubles - Cholera & Flooding
On Thursday, November 4, our staff in Gonaives prepared for the worst. Father Gerard reported that all vehicles and equipment were moved to higher ground and all the files and computer equipment at our Gonaives office was moved to the second floor. HT staff and many families went to or center in Bassen, safely above the flood waters, to ride out the storm. Reports of heavy flooding in Gonaives leave us very concerned for the people there who have lived through 3 major hurricanes in the last 6 years. Our Gonaives staff will implement a major outreach to help remove mud and water, distribute water and food, and relocate schools and families.
On Sunday, November 7, Doug Campbell spoke with Fr. Gerard Dormevil who runs our programs in Gonaives: "The flooding is not too bad and people were prepared," said Fr. Gerard. "We can use some help with rebuilding a few school walls that were washed away, and with a water purification effort underway in the villages where Cholera is spreading rapidly," said Gerard.
Things could have been much worse and we will use the next week to clean up after this latest natural disaster. Then we can, hopefully, get the students back into the school rooms. The storm did veer away from the capital and hit the Leogone area of Haiti much harder than Port-au-Prince. We will organize food and clothing distribution there as we did after the earthquake.
We appreciate all the prayers and support from everybody during this latest trouble. Despite all of this we know that God is always with us. Go here (link to Tomas photo gallery) to see a few photos of our Port-au-Prince outreach during the storm.