On October 4, 2016, Hurricane Matthew tore through the Caribbean and made landfall in Haiti. The Category 4 storm left extreme devastation in its wake. The affected area was still reeling from the damage caused by the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that leveled much of Port-au-Prince in 2010. The Tiburon Peninsula took a direct hit from the storm, and it is estimated that about 90% of the area is in shambles.
The death toll continues to rise as rescue and recovery efforts persist. USA Today cited Port-au-Prince’s National Civil Protection casualty report at 400 deaths, but the news outlet noted that other sources have placed the death toll closer to 900. Povery and inadequate warning are two factors that have contributed to this high body count.
While the initial deaths are still being tallied, a cholera outbreak has also followed the storm. A similar outbreak came on the heels of the 2010 earthquake. The illness, caused by ingesting contaminated water, is highly contagious and causes digestive distress that can result in dehydration and death. Haitians are in need of humanitarian aid to combat the cholera outbreak as it continues to sicken hurricane survivors.
The force of the 145 mph winds and the flooding that swept across the southern tip of Haiti have left those who have escaped the storm and cholera with no food or shelter. The Haitian government was slow to respond with aid, but other entities have stepped in to provide relief.
It is estimated that 1.4 million people are in need of aid, and 120,000 families have lost their homes. Aid efforts have increased to counter the effects of the storm. At present, the United States has sent two military vessels (U.S.S. Iwo Jima and U.S.S. Mesa Verde) equipped with aid supplies and logistical coordination capacities to the region. On October 13, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) stated that it would send $12 million to the affected area.
Haitians are doing their best in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. The news has been flooded with stories of families caring for relatives who have contracted cholera and the handful of medical staff trying to contain the outbreak without medicine and sanitation equipment. Other stories recount the struggle of people left without homes, food, or water. Survivors are left trying to pick up the pieces.