Most of you have heard news and reports of Hurricane Matthew, which poured over the Caribbean this week and is currently headed up the east coast. The city where Haiti Design Co-op is located, Port-au-Prince, was generally spared from the damages of the wind and rain, but the southern part of our precious island was not as fortunate.
The full extent of the damage is not yet clear, but it is clear that there has been agricultural devastation, catastrophic property damage, as well as loss of life throughout the southern region of Haiti. There are many in the southern peninsula that have lost investments that they had poured time and money into such as gardens and livestock. These are effects that might not be the first thing to cross our minds, but have a long lasting impact on the people in the region. For many they have lost their means of feeding their families or making any money at all. Along side these losses, Haiti, which is no stranger to Cholera and other waterborne diseases, is now at risk for a resurgence of illnesses again as flood waters have contaminated water sources, and many do not have the means or access to clean drinking water. These problems alone, the loss of gardens, and restricted access to safe water, could potentially be more devastating for Haiti than the initial impact of the storm.
To make things worse, much of the structural damage incurred from the storm includes bridges and roadways to the main cities in need in the southern region. This has put a large damper on immediate disaster response efforts as first responders are relying on mostly aviation organizations to bring supplies and manpower to the affected areas. There are some great organizations doing this work- Mission Aviation Fellowship, Missionary Flights International, and Hero Dispatch to name a few- but large-scale aid influx has the potential to be bottlenecked until road conditions improve.
When approaching relief efforts, we need to be very cognizant of how to prevent more loss in the wake of disaster. Starvation, cholera, and other waterborne disease are real and imminent threats in the aftermath of a natural disaster here in Haiti that need to be addressed promptly.