Our staff is fighting against cholera and providing critically needed relief supplies in communities devastated by Hurricane Matthew
Hurricane Matthew was the most powerful storm to pound the Caribbean in nearly a decade, and when it hit Haiti on October 4, 2016, it also became the deadliest.
Haitian communities lost homes, businesses, churches, and more than 1,000 lives to this Category 4 hurricane that cut a path of destruction from Colombia, South America, to the Carolinas.
Samaritan’s Purse has delivered more than 220 metric tons of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) supplies, shelter materials, and medical relief to the country’s southern peninsula and other affected areas. Our staff continues to assess and address the growing needs of communities, many of which were entirely razed by 145-mile-per-hour winds and catastrophic storm surge.
WASH teams have joined our medical teams in hard-hit areas to help slow the spate of cholera cases spiking in communities still struggling to recover. Recent heavy rains have spread the cholera bacteria downstream through the region’s many rivers and into its drinking water. Following the 2010 Haiti earthquake, a cholera outbreak killed more than 10,000 Haitians as drinking water became polluted by waste.
The focus of our current medical team is on preventing further spread while also providing life-saving treatment [IV fluids and antibiotics] at our Cholera Treatment Centers based in Chardionnières.
We saw a spike in cholera cases over the weekend (October 22-23) as a total of three in-center patients on Friday became dozens on Saturday and Sunday.
“We could treat cholera forever,” said Dan Stephens, Emergency Response Coordinator for Samaritan’s Purse. “It’s endemic in Haiti and is not going away. So our emphasis now is to treat cases, but also to educate and provide water treatment resources for communities with compromised water sources.”
This includes distributing water treatment tabs and water filters and establishing safe hygiene systems and practices that reduce exposure to contaminated water sources.
Through the work of our medical and WASH teams, communities are escaping the worst of what could’ve been an even more severe outbreak, an outbreak that might have hit catastrophic proportions in areas cut off by washed out roads. Our helicopter has increased our access to more remote areas where washed-out roads have made travel and supply transport a major obstacle.
“It’s by God’s grace upon all of us that she’s better,” said Roselaine, the daughter of an elderly patient who’d been carried into our Cholera Treatment Center in Chardionnières. “I want to thank Samaritan’s Purse for coming here and caring for the people here, including my mother. If it wasn’t for Samaritan’s Purse a lot of people would have been dead.”
Resources Getting to the Neediest Areas
Teams continue to distribute shelter supplies, including heavy-duty, blue plastic sheeting, to affected areas. We recently outfitted 1,100 households outside of Les Cayes and will soon distribute materials for hundreds of houses in the Chardonnières area. Assessments continue for needs among area churches and teams are assessing the need for more distributions further west in Les Anglais.
During fly-overs, our teams have seen that materials have traveled far from where we distributed them, a positive development showing that vital resources got to where they were most needed—often hours by foot.
Distributions and assessments also continue in Jeremie.
We will continue also to work alongside the World Food Program to distribute food to areas where crops and livestock were decimated, leaving much of southern Haiti without food sources.
“This used to be known as the fruit basket of Haiti,” one Port-au-Prince UN official said of Jeremie and the southern peninsula. “Now they have nothing to eat and nothing to export.”
We plan to help provide up to 150,000 people with food stuffs.
Please continue to pray for safety and for wisdom for our teams as our work continues to expand where needs arise.