Hurricane Matthew made landfall at 7 AM this morning, as a Category 4 just west of Les Cayes. It is apparently the strongest hurricane to hit Haiti in 52 years. The storm has since moved into the Gulf of la Gonave, but will likely drop a lot more rain before it completely leaves Haiti.
I just got off the phone with Guy Paraison, the director of Floresta Haiti, our local partner. He is in Croix de Bouquets near Port au Prince, but has been communicating with the regional directors by phone and text message. Here are specific local updates.
• Bainet, on the southern coast, and closest to where the eye made landfall has had flooding and landslides. Information is still incomplete, and I expect we will be hearing a lot more about damage and possibly loss of life.
• Grande Colline – the phones are apparently out and roads are impassable, so Guy has no concrete information.
• Cornillion – Our regional director, Smith reports that the wind is still very violent and there has been a lot of rain. Many farmers have lost crops – particularly bananas and beans. Also, many of the tree nurseries have been destroyed. However, the contour canals and soil erosion control barriers have been effective in reducing soil erosion and crop destruction.
• Fond Verettes – There has been a lot of rain but no specific reports of damage yet.
• Acul du Nord, furthest from the center for the storm, has experienced mostly rain and wind. We were planning on holding training on ecological latrines, led by Jorge from our Mexican program, and at least one farmer made the trip down from Acul du Nord to attend the training, which has obviously been postponed.
This information is very incomplete, but with the isolation of the communities we serve, we are unlikely to get an accurate picture of the full devastation for a few days, so stay tuned. However, Guy talked to us about the need to set up a relief effort for those who are most affected, so we are starting on plans to respond.
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Thanks for your prayers. I will keep updating this through the day and week as more information becomes available.