Haiti: “Hurricane Matthew increases the vulnerability of people yet to recover from the violent earthquake of 2010”
Hurricane Matthew, which hit Haiti on 4 October, has affected more than one million Haitians and forced the evacuation of more than 15,000 people. Access to large swathes of the affected southern area remains difficult and the scale of the damage means humanitarian needs are likely to be significant. Handicap International has deployed an emergency team to assess the needs of the affected population.
Floodings in Port au Prince following Hurricane Matthew | © G. Vandeputte / Handicap International
Hurricane Matthew, which hit Haiti on Tuesday 4 October, caused significant damage to over a quarter of the country, especially the southern departments of Grand’Anse and Sud. At least 23 people have been killed by the hurricane and more than 15,000 people have been evacuated. The storm has caused serious material damage including to more than 1,800 homes. More than 1 million people may have been affected, of whom 350,000 need immediate assistance.
Access to large areas of the southern peninsula was still impossible on Thursday due to infrastructure damage, including damaged or destroyed bridges, flooding and landslides. At least 11 municipalities have been affected by floods in the Grand-Anse, Nippes and Sud departments with evacuations on-going.
Handicap International’s teams already present in Haiti are preparing to travel to the affected areas to identify the essential needs of affected populations. An initial backup team of five people will arrive in Haiti on Friday morning to support the evacuations and help humanitarian organisations access regions worst affected by Hurricane Matthew.
“Flooding regularly raises long-term risks. It destroys livelihoods and stagnant water raises the risk of epidemics: cholera and dengue are already serious problems in Haiti and there could be a new outbreak. One of our top priorities will be to ensure affected populations benefit from immediate humanitarian aid, such as access to drinking water, health care, medication and mosquito nets,”
Audrey Lecomte, coordinator of Handicap International’s emergency team in Haiti.
Gaëlle Vandeputte, the head of Handicap International’s projects in Haiti, adds:
“Hurricane Matthew has affected people already regularly exposed to natural disasters and yet to recover from the deadly earthquake of January 2010.
The impact of this hurricane risks making the most vulnerable people even more vulnerable over the long-term.”
The hurricane continued along its trajectory and hit the Dominican Republic and the eastern tip of Cuba - where more than 300,000 people have been evacuated to temporary shelters - and is sweeping the Bahamas this Thursday morning. It is expected to near the east coast of Florida on Thursday evening.
Handicap International in Haiti and Cuba
Handicap International has been present in Cuba (provinces of Pinar del Rio and Granma, Santiago de Cuba, Baracoa and Guantanamo) since 1998 and Haiti (region of Port-au-Prince, department of Nippes, municipalities of Delmas and Carrefour, and the departments of Artibonite and Nord) since 2008. In Haiti, Handicap International provided support to tens of thousands of victims of the earthquake of January 2010.