Aid slowly ar­riv­ing in Haiti as hur­ri­cane clean-up gets un­der­way

7 Days in Dubai - - SPECIAL REPORT -

id convoys are fi­nally get­ting through to ar­eas of Haiti worst hit by Hur­ri­cane Matthew, now that some roads washed out by have been cleared.

An in­ter­na­tional re­sponse to the stag­ger­ing blow de­liv­ered by Hur­ri­cane Matthew to south­west­ern Haiti was fi­nally get­ting un­der way on Satur­day even as au­thor­i­ties were still try­ing to gauge the full ex­tent of the death and de­struc­tion.

“It’s be­gin­ning to pick up now,” said Stephane Rol­land, a re­gional co­or­di­na­tor for the In­ter­na­tional Fed­er­a­tion of the Red Cross, as work­ers un­loaded blan­kets, soap, bleach and other crit­i­cal items in Jeremie.

There are clearly lim­its, though, in­clud­ing the fact that the airstrip in Jeremie is un­able to ac­com­mo­date large cargo planes. Many of the vil­lages in the south­west­ern penin­sula are dif­fi­cult to reach. And peo­ple are grow­ing in­creas­ingly des­per­ate af­ter los­ing ev­ery­thing when the storm ripped through on Tues­day.

One woman stared with out­stretched arms as a UN con­voy drove through town. “I am hun­gry. I hope they can help,” said Fa­bi­enne Charles, ex­plain­ing that she would nor­mally be work­ing as a mar­ket ven­dor but

lost her sup­plies in the storm. The pre­cise death toll from the storm re­mained un­cer­tain. Guil­laume Sil­vera, a se­nior of­fi­cial with the Civil Pro­tec­tion Agency in the Grand-Anse De­part­ment, which is on the tip of the south­ern penin­sula and in­cludes the city of Jeremie, said they had con­firmed 522 deaths, not in­clud­ing any­one in sev­eral re­mote com­mu­ni­ties that they have yet to reach be­cause of col­lapsed roads and bridges.

“We think the num­bers will have to go up,” Sil­vera said.

Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials es­ti­mate that at least 350,000 peo­ple need as­sis­tance, and con­cern was grow­ing over an in­crease in cholera cases fol­low­ing wide­spread flood­ing un­leashed by Matthew. An on­go­ing cholera out­break has al­ready killed roughly 10,000 peo­ple and sick­ened more than 800,000 since 2010, when the in­fec­tious dis­ease was in­tro­duced into the coun­try’s big­gest river from a UN base where Nepalese peace­keep­ers were de­ployed.

Maria Sofia Sanon, a health worker over­see­ing the open-air cholera treat­ment cen­tre in a cor­ner of Jeremie’s main hos­pi­tal, said they were ill-equipped to deal with pa­tients.

The area was strewn with bro­ken tree branches, and a group of young moth­ers sat out­side hold­ing up the arms of glassy-eyed chil­dren be­ing re­hy­drated via IVs.

“They’re not sup­posed to be in the sun, but we have no more beds,” Sanon said.

The World Food Pro­gramme says there has been mas­sive de­struc­tion of crops. Hos­pi­tals and clin­ics have been dam­aged or destroyed as they strug­gle to deal with an in­crease in pa­tients with in­juries sus­tained dur­ing the storm and cholera.

UNICEF said that in Grand Anse alone there were 66,000 houses destroyed and 20,000 heav­ily dam­aged.

Jo­ce­lyne Saint Preux was part of the crowd that lined up in an or­derly fash­ion to get food as aid be­gan to ar­rive, in­clud­ing ship­ments of food and sup­plies from the US Agency for In­ter­na­tional Devel­op­ment car­ried by waves of mil­i­tary trans­port he­li­copters.

The mother of three chil­dren whose home was destroyed said: “They brought food, but it’s not suf­fi­cient. There’s no wa­ter, no char­coal.”

Jis­lene Jean-Bap­tiste sur­veyed what re­mained of the one-room house that the grand­mother shares with her three daugh­ters and their chil­dren. There wasn’t much left. Storm surge flowed across the road and drenched her be­long­ings in waist-deep salt wa­ter, wash­ing away the stores of rice and sugar she reg­u­larly sold at the mar­ket to sup­port her fam­ily. Then the wind tore off her roof.

“That storm was the most ter­ri­fy­ing thing that ever hap­pened here,” she said.

DES­PER­ATE: Res­i­dents of Jeremie in Haiti await aid sup­plies

TREAT­MENT: Cholera pa­tients at a makeshift clinic

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