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Hurricane Matthew: More than 500 dead, extensive damage

Emergency
Haiti

The death toll in Haiti continues to rise as assessment teams gain access to areas worst affected by Hurricane Matthew, which made landfall on Tuesday 4 October. More than 500 people are estimated to have been killed by the hurricane, which has also caused severe material damage. Handicap International’s emergency backup team arrived in Haiti on Friday.

Destruction in the south of Haiti after hurricane Matthew

Destruction in the south of Haiti after hurricane Matthew | © P. Thieler / Handicap International

Three days after Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti, the death toll continues to soar. According to the Haitian authorities, more than 500 people are believed to have been killed and material damage is expected to be heavy.

Haiti is one of the poorest countries on earth, so the recurrence of natural disasters weakens the whole population, which is regularly hit by large-scale disasters but does not have the means to recover from them.

Hélène Robin, head of Handicap International’s emergency operations

 

According to United Nations[1] estimates, more than 350,000 people need humanitarian aid and very heavy damage is expected in the Grand-Anse and Sud sectors, particularly in the cities of Jérémie and Les Cayes.

Many roads are blocked, severely restricting access to people living on the island’s southern tip.

“In 2008, after Haiti was hit by two typhoons, we set up a logistics platform with a fleet of forty off-road lorries to transport humanitarian aid to isolated areas impossible to access with conventional vehicles,” explains Hélène Robin. “We have dispatched two logistics officers to Haiti, who arrived this Friday. They are working to immediately restore the logistics platform in order to provide humanitarian organisations with access to the most isolated populations.”

Due to difficulties accessing affected areas, in addition to lorries, the logistics platform is expected to use maritime routes to speed up the transport of aid

Handicap International is also planning distributions in aid of families who have lost everything. The organisation intends to supply kits of rope and plastic sheets to repair makeshift shelters and cooking kits. To assist people with disabilities, older people and the sick, the organisation is preparing to provide appropriate care-management, including the treatment of the injured to aid mobility and prevent the development of permanent disabilities.

It also plans to distribute crutches, walking frames and wheelchairs. 

We are also very concerned about people living in the Nord-Ouest department, which was hit slightly later by the hurricane. Reports of damage are sketchy but worrying.


[1] OCHA situation report 06 10 2016

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