Haiti: I’ve Never Seen a Storm Like That

08 August 2017

Haiti: I’ve Never Seen a Storm Like That

Alicia, 50, had never experienced anything like Hurricane Matthew before. She lives in the small village of Timpé, a slow and peaceful place set between bright blue Caribbean waters and small green mountains. 

Timpé is remote even for Haitians. It can take up to one hour by foot to reach the nearest town of Tiburon. The mobile phone network doesn’t work in Timpé, and the radio frequently cuts in and out of service. 

With so little connection to the outside world, the villagers of Timpé had no idea that Hurricane Matthew was barrelling toward them with such force. “We heard some people saying ‘There is a bad storm coming,’ but we didn’t believe them,” said Alicia. “There have been other storms here.” 

She paused for a moment. “I’ve lived my whole life in Timpé, but I’ve never seen a storm like that before.”

Alicia and three of her six children were at home when the hurricane hit. “It came at four o’clock in the morning. First we heard the wind, then we heard rain and the sound of trees falling down, and then our house collapsed. It was completely destroyed. I thought we would die.”

Timpé was littered with debris from the storm. Palm fronds, fishing nets, and uprooted trees covered the beach and the surrounding village. The farmland behind the village was completely destroyed, and many people lost all of their cattle.

Debris from Hurricane Matthew is strewn across the beach in Timpé. 

“We have no safe water here,” said Alicia. “There’s no food or medicine or health care. There are no latrines. People will get sick.”

To help vulnerable families like Alicia’s, Medair distributed 2,500 shelter kits and 2,000 hygiene kits to families living in Tiburon Commune. These kits provided families with the means to make emergency repairs to their homes, to make their water safe to drink, and to practice basic hygiene.

Alicia took me to see the frame of her damaged house. “I’m repairing it,” she told me. “Right now my family sleeps in a little makeshift shelter – it is just palm and sticks. 

“When I’m done with this frame, I will put the Medair tarp over this house and my children and I will sleep here.”

She looks up at the frame of her house. “We will have something secure over our heads when we sleep at night, and that that means a lot to me. Thank you for your help.”

Medair is now raising funds to provide sturdy, upgraded shelters to 600 families like Alicia’s. If you are able to make a contribution, please give today.

Timpé is located in Tiburon Commune, in the southwest section of Haiti that was battered by Hurricane Matthew on 4 October 2016. The massive hurricane ranged from a category three to category five storm, with gusts of wind that reached up to 230 km per hour.

Medair’s work in Haiti is made possible with support from All We Can (UK), Medicor Foundation (LI), Läkarmissionen (SE), US Agency for International Development, and generous private donors.

This content was produced with resources gathered by Medair field and headquarters staff. The views expressed herein are those solely of Medair and should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of any other organisation.

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