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Friday, October 14, 2016

The damage is so much worse than we thought

Hurricane Matthew
“It looked like a machete just passed through the air at 200 miles per hour and chopped off everything.”
—Salvatore Enzo Del Brocco, priest from Dame-Marie
I just returned from Haiti, and the damage is worse than we ever imagined it would be. Hurricane Matthew pounded villages along the Tiburon Peninsula in coastal southwest Haiti last week. Torrential downpours and 145 mile per hour winds felled trees, swept away people and animals, and destroyed up to 90 percent of homes in some areas.
All told, 2.1 million people are affected and 1.4 million need immediate help.

Food and crops were destroyed, a critical loss because the region is a key food producer for the entire country. Clean water is in short supply and poor sanitation has triggered another outbreak of cholera—a disease that has killed some 10,000 people since the 2010 earthquake. Already, new cases are spiking.
The streets are filled with clothes and mattresses as people are trying to dry out their lives. Half the trees are down, and many homes are destroyed. Thousands are holed up in shelters without even basic necessities.
Still in shock, people say they can't believe how the hurricane, which many say they didn’t know was coming, could take everything they had so quickly. Most have no food in what is left of their houses. Much of the fruit from fallen trees is gone. They say they don't know where their next meal will come from.
relief distribution
We are setting up operations in Jeremie and Dame-Marie, hard-hit areas left unreachable for days after the storm. CRS emergency experts, arriving from around the world, are designing projects to help people get clean water and prevent cholera.
Agriculture teams are working with farmers whose crops were destroyed so they can replant in time for harvest in December, when a food shortage could set in.
There are still many areas that haven’t been reached yet—areas that are hard to reach even during normal conditions. But with so much destruction and poor infrastructure, getting supplies to remote communities will be no small task.
Some 1.4 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian aid, and the question remains: Will it reach them in time?
I want to thank you for your generosity in this great time of need. And I want to ask you again—will you continue to help the people of Haiti suffering in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. The devastation and need is so great.
Thank you,

Robyn Fieser
Robyn Fieser
Regional Information Officer
Catholic Relief Services

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