“They Never Stood a Chance” – An Update from Haiti

Haiti hadn’t seen a storm like this one in more than 50 years.

 “The older people who survived Hurricane Hazel in 1954 told me that Matthew was much worse,” said Serge, a hotel owner in the devastated coastal town of Les Coteaux.

“My customers who were on the first floor moved to the second floor immediately because the water level was rising so fast,” said Serge. “One of them told me she saw a wave about 25 feet high come towards her window.”

Serge’s hotel lost its windows, fans, some walls, and a gazebo, but it’s still standing, unlike most of the town. “No one was expecting such strong winds,” said Serge.

Medair’s emergency response team have expressed shock at the level of devastation. “I asked some people if they were able to recover any of their personal belongings, but the answer was obvious,” said Nath, who has responded to multiple disasters with Medair but never seen this kind of destruction. “The wind took everything in its path.”

In the first week, our team visited hard-to-reach coastal villages, spoke with survivors, and sought to identify the families most in need of aid. Tens of thousands of people have lost their homes, leaving families without a roof over their heads, just as the downpours of the rainy season begin. Water and sanitation systems have overflowed, and deadly outbreaks of cholera are back on the rise. Without urgent aid, families will suffer great hardship and more people will die.

As a first response, our team travelled by sea with the help of the Dutch navy working in a humanitarian capacity. Since roads remain blocked by debris and high water levels, the only practical way to reach the worst-hit villages is still by air or by sea. In three coastal communities, our team boated ashore and distributed 300 hygiene kits to prevent cholera. We also gave emergency medical supplies to health clinics, enough to treat 4,000 patients. In Chardonnières, Medair was the first NGO to arrive with aid.

“God bless you guys,” said Antonio, an apprentice bricklayer who lost all of his tools in the surging sea during the storm. “God sent you to come here, just to bring us some immediate relief, because we didn’t have any hope at all.”

Thanks to all of you who are standing with the people of Haiti in their time of need. With your support, we are ramping up a comprehensive emergency response that will help thousands of families have a chance to recover and rebuild their lives. Please consider a gift for the people of Haiti today.

Don’t miss the video of Medair’s first response to help Haitians in coastal villages.

Medair’s distributions were organised with the support of our local partner World Concern Haiti and made possible with the generous support of private donors.

This content was produced with resources gathered by Medair field and headquarter staff. The views expressed herein are those solely of Medair and should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of any other organisation.