Hurricane Matthew Has Hit. The Recovery Begins Now.
Hurricane Matthew brutalized Haiti with 145 mph winds and 175 mph gusts leaving streets indistinguishable from rivers and landscapes swept into garish new designs. Houses broke apart and took flight like a flock of kites. Residents in many communities waded through 3 feet and more of dirty flood waters, their lives, homes, crops, livestock and dreams washed away in terrifying minutes. The strongest storm to make landfall in Haiti since 1964 arrived with a vengeance and left deadly footprints across the poorest country in the western hemisphere.
At least 350,000 people fell in harm’s way. The death toll is 572 and expected to soar. The sea swallowed whole towns and cut off access to many more. Assessments will take weeks. A UN official said, “Haiti faces the worst humanitarian crisis since the tragic earthquake of 2010.”
Hôpital Sacré-Coeur Races into Action
Hôpital Sacré-Coeur in Milot mercifully survived in fine form, well positioned to be a blessing to the region and nation as it plunges in to provide the medical and other care needed to a beleaguered populous. The gratitude of the staff is palpable and their commitment to be an inspiring and effective part of the solution to this hellacious natural disaster fuels the esprit de corps so common to this premiere northern medical center.
What We Face Now and in the Weeks Ahead
• Cholera, already at a crisis level before the storm struck, will rise in the days and weeks ahead. More dehydration sources, IV fluids and antibiotics are called for in order to effectively treat the expected increase in cholera patients.
• Large numbers of crops and livestock have been destroyed erasing already meager food stocks and putting a halt to food production. The number of malnourished people—particularly children—will soar. Salt soaked fields rule out quick planting of new crops.
• Massive amounts of standing water increase the number of mosquitoes and their debilitating and often deadly array of viral and parasitic diseases: Zika, malaria, dengue fever, chikungunya, and lymphatic filariasis.
• Lack of clean water for drinking, cooking, bathing and cleaning heightens risk of infections and spread of diseases. Mudslides may continue for days due to rain soaked ground and contaminate more water sources.
• Damaged roads and washed out bridges have crippled supply chains and recovery will likely take months. The extreme devaluation of the Haitian gourde in recent months had already caused much higher prices for goods, now the price of fuel and basic supplies will soar due to severely limited quantities.
The Sobering Haitian Reality
• The size of Maryland, Haiti splits the island of Hispaniola with Dominican Republic. There are no other states or safe locations for relocation. Any major destructive impact to one area of the nation impacts all areas of the country.
• No FEMA, no insurance policies, no friends and no relatives with resources enough to house the displaced and suffering. Unlike Americans, Haitians live without various layers of safety nets.
• Government hospitals have been on strike since early this year increasing patient loads on quality medical centers like Hôpital Sacré-Coeur. The destruction and compromise of many private medical facilities will encourage migration north and swell our patient population in the weeks and months ahead.
What it Takes to be a Blessing…
At Holy Name Medical Center headquarters, 1,500 miles to the north in Teaneck, New Jersey, medical supplies, food and personal care items are being purchased, thanks to the generosity of compassionate donors like YOU, and loaded into a 40-foot container to be rushed to Milot so stocks can be quickly replenished and food and other essential items can be distributed to hurricane victims. In the weeks and months ahead, more containers of life-saving supplies will be shipped out…provided more donations arrive in time.
The critical need right now is for cash. We cannot emphasize enough, the practical power of potable cash that can be used immediately and applied most effectively to meet the fast changing needs of a disaster situation.
You Are a Greatly Appreciated and Critical Part of the Solution
At CRUDEM/ Hôpital Sacré-Coeur we have never shied away from a challenge no matter how daunting. We roll up our shirt sleeves (and in this case, pull on our galoshes) and get to work. Having been in Haiti since 1968—nearly 50 years—we know the landscape of efficient, effective and positive impact. We understand what needs to be done and how to proceed to ensure the best outcomes.
Right now, we need to increase supply purchases to care for our sisters and brothers in Haiti. And, continue to operate a fully packed 125-bed medical center. Heart attacks and babies do not forestall their arrivals because of a hurricane.
Your Love, Compassion and Generosity Is…
A Force of Nature More Powerful than Hurricane Matthew!
Please make a donation today.
100% of your donation will go to provide patients and the community with the care they need.
David G. Butler, M.D.