Update about the effects of Hurricane Matthew on Haiti’s Southern Peninsula
“I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” Jeremiah 31:25
JOY: The Haitian people have a right to be weary and faint of heart. Tropical Storm Sandy, the 2010 earthquake and now Hurricane Matthew all of which gave immense devastation. The loss of life is unimaginable, but for those who survived, life continues and usually with gratefulness to God for what is left. The physical needs of Haiti are once again on the minds of everyone. All of us who live here are grateful for all the care and concern sent to help. With the help from others the Haitian people will be refreshed through their constant stamina and their faith in God.
JOY: Both Jean and I started writing a letter. I was going to integrate his into mine, but since our writing styles are so different I decided it might be fun to share both with you even though some of the information is repetitive.
JOY: Fond-des-Blancs was in the zone of the worst winds and rain, but because it is located in the mountains and not on the seacoast we have survived with lots of damage, but no deaths. When Jean and I first moved to Fond-des-Blancs, I complained (only partly jokingly) that he couldn’t hear God calling him to a coastal area. We’re on an island surrounded by coastline, but we are in the mountains. I am rethinking that complaint. Recently we have seen in Malaysia, Japan and Haiti how easy it is for the ocean to totally wipe out coastal cities and locations.
JEAN: For 24 hours, hurricane Matthew, a category 4 hurricane, battered Haiti with incredible wind and rain. The devastation on the southern peninsula is beyond words. Some who flew over the most severely affected areas reported that the physical devastation is even worse than the 2010 earthquake in terms of loss of homes and life-sustaining gardens. Over 1000 casualties have been reported so far.
JOY: For this storm in our area the wind was worse than we have ever seen. Many tin roofs were taken off of homes as well as the main roof of our new multipurpose building. The roof of our school library did not come off, but unfortunately many of the shelves were too near windows. I took many away from the windows before the storm, but more rain than I anticipated blew in. I am doing my best to dry as many of them out as I can. Our six interns who have been in their selected communities for a couple of years now also suffered damage, but no loss of life. A couple of them lost their whole church/school buildings and a couple others lost the roofs to their buildings. We will be giving assistance to all of them for homes and churches.
JEAN: Our community of Fond-des-Blancs, not in the direct path of the storm, suffered major damages as well. There are no gardens left, signaling hunger for months, if not years, to come. The tin roofs of a large number of houses were simply blown off. The largest section of the roof of our new multi-purpose center at L’Exode Secondary School was picked up and dropped in the middle of the street. Our entire crop at the farm is gone. The loss in terms of livestock is also painful.
JOY: The ten miles from our community to the main paved road has never been paved. We have worked on it several times. Our bulldozer is working on it again to enable cars and trucks to go out for and come in with needed supplies. There were certain areas that had become impassable.
JOY: My experience at our weekly market last Friday was very uplifting. Even though there was no guarantee at the time that supplies could be restocked, but no one hiked up their prices and everyone was happy for everyone else who could give good news of survival. As mentioned non-perishable items will be re-stocked, but all the small gardens in the area plus all the corn and peanuts that had just been planted at our large farm were all washed away. This is a huge financial loss. We plan to give several tuition scholarships to students whose families lost the most.
JEAN: As we look at the options before us:
- Respond to the housing crisis. A home that should not house more than two or three people is now a shelter for several more homeless extended family and friends.
- For most farmers, it is too late to prepare their lands for a new crop before the first of the year. But they can begin to grow their livestock herds; especially goats and pigs.
- Not just our school, but several others suffered major damages to their buildings. Most have no source of finances to rebuild.
- The number of trees that have been uprooted present another danger to the fragile ecology of the community. We need to either (or both) produce or buy tree seedlings for replanting.
- At least for the L’Exode schools, we would like to assist with a few months of ‘free tuition’. This would give the parents a time to recoup. Any financial contribution designated to that end would help.
Hurricane Matthew in Fond-des-Blancs
JOY: Thank you for all your notes of concern for our welfare. Like everyone else I have spent the last couple of days drying out our home and sweeping away the thousands of leaves blown in from the trees, but relieved and happy we are not with loss of life in this area. We move forward with yours and and help.
Yours in Christ,
Jean and Joy Thomas