Thursday, September 04, 2008

An Update from Josette Perard, Haiti Director


Yesterday, Port au Prince was in a state of panic. It was extremely windy and raining hard. Many houses no longer have roofs, trees are uprooted, light poles with electric lines are down… but this is nothing compared to the devastation which has struck other communities throughout the country.

The Minister of Education postponed the opening of classes until next week, but in light of the unanticipated problems brought by Hanna, we don’t know if they will not have to postpone it yet again (we have heard that there are two other hurricanes on their way)

No one is talking about schools right now; the focus is on the damage wrought by Gustav and Hanna. We are all thinking about how to begin tackling the problems which have suddenly disrupted our lives.

We are receiving calls from our partner organizations with horrible news about their communities.

The peasant organization in River Blanche (ODEPERIB) called to say that one member of the organization has died, the flooding is really severe, and many houses are destroyed. Some of the cisterns we have funded have sustained a lot of damage.

The Women’s Association of Mapou Rollin, just called and Vyolèn, the president of the organization, said that Hanna is even worse than Jeanne. Her house is completely destroyed and she has lost everything. The grain mill we helped build is completely flooded and the corn and millet brought by the market women to be milled just washed away. The chicken coop which we also helped build is being used as shelter by over 100 local families. No one has eaten anything since Monday.

Mme. Cedieu, a leader in the farmers’ organization of Gwomon (AGPGM), said that she lost everything -- her crops and her animals. She said that the land cultivated by AGPGM was devastated and all the plantain trees are down. Fortunately our experimental field of young plantain trees is still standing. Not too many trees were destroyed but the irrigation pump will need to be repaired. I have not talked to the staff member who runs the Center for Plantain Propagation to determine its condition. We are still trying to reach him.

Tidjo (Lambi Fund Field Monitor for the North) and Margo (Lambi Fund Advisory Board member) called us this morning and told us that the waters are beginning to recede in Gonaives, and at Tidjo’s house as well. Tidjo has lost everything and there are now over 60 people seeking shelter on Tidjo’s rooftop. They have not had anything to eat in 3 days.

Once it stops raining we will try to go to Gonaives to bring some help to Tidjo and his family and to see in what way we can begin to help our partner organizations and their communities. Reaching Gonaives will be very hard, since a veritable lake now lies at the entrance of the city.

Meanwhile, St Cyr (Lambi Fund Field Monitor for the South) has finally gotten news from home. He came to Port-au-Prince from Les Cayes to attend a staff meeting when he got news that his home and neighborhood were flooded. He was extremely distressed to hear that his family and their neighbors had to seek refuge on their roof top. He was told this morning the waters had receded. He too has lost everything. Although St Cyr has learned that there is no way to get to Les Cayes, because Miragoane has overflowed, he is now determined to get back to his family, and he will call us when he gets there.

We have heard on the radio that Torbeck and Chantal are flooded. We are supporting projects throughout the area. We have not been able to reach any member of our partner organizations in Belfontèn but we heard on the radio that the area is in shambles.

The calls are trickling in we will keep you posted whenever we hear something.

1 comment:

Josh said...

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Thanks everyone