Haitians lend a hand while waiting for aid
LES CAYES, Haiti — People throughout Haiti’s devastated southwest peninsula formed makeshift brigades Tuesday to clear debris and try to regain some semblance of their pre-hurricane lives as anger grew over the delay in aid for remote communities more than a week after the Category 4 storm hit.
A community group that formed in the southern seaside community of Les Anglais began clearing tree limbs from streets and placing them into piles while others gathered scraps of wood to start rebuilding homes destroyed by Hurricane Matthew.
Carpenter James Nassau donned a white construction helmet as he rebuilt a neighbor’s wall with recycled wood, hoping to earn a little money to take care of 10 children, including those left behind by his brother, who died in the storm.
“My brother left five kids, and now I’ve got to take care of them,” he said. “Nobody has come to help.”
The scene repeated itself across small seaside and mountain villages dotting the peninsula, where people pointed out helicopters buzzing overhead and questioned why they haven’t received any help.
Israel Banissa, a carpenter who lives near the small mountain town of Moron, said a Red Cross assessment team stopped outside his village to ask people questions but didn’t leave any supplies.
“There’s no aid that’s come here,” he said as he sawed wood to help rebuild his home and dozens of others. “I don’t think they care about the people up here.”
The U.N. humanitarian agency in Geneva has made an emergency appeal for nearly $120 million in aid, saying about 750,000 people in southwest Haiti will need “life-saving assistance and protection” in the next three months.
U.N. officials said earlier that at least 1.4 million people across the region need assistance and that 2.1 million overall have been affected by the hurricane. Some 175,500 people remain in shelters.
The National Civil Protection headquarters in Port-au-Prince raised the official nationwide death toll to 473, which included at least 244 deaths in Grand-Anse. But local officials have said the toll in Grand-Anse alone tops 500.
Elancie Moise, an agronomist and director for the Department of Agriculture in southern Haiti, said 80 percent to 100 percent of crops have been lost across the southern peninsula.
“Crisis is not the word to describe it,” he said. “You need a stronger word. It is much worse. There is no food for people to eat.”
Food was slowly reaching remote communities, but there was also a growing need for medical supplies.
In the western seaside village of Dame Marie, 300 patients with festering wounds lay silently on beds at the main hospital waiting for medicine a week after the storm hit.
“There’s no water, no antibiotics,” Dr. Herby Jean said. “Everything is depleted.”
Concern also was growing about an increase in cases of cholera, which has already killed roughly 10,000 people and sickened over 800,000 since 2010.
Survivors make do with what they can salvage in Les Cayes, a hard-hit area of Haiti.