October 12, 2016 — Over 1,000 people have died in Haiti after Hurricane Matthew slammed the country on October 4. While the Jesuits in Haiti reported no injuries or material losses from the disaster, Jesuit Father Miller Lamothe, the French Canada Jesuits’ provincial delegate in Haiti, said, “The more news comes, the more we realize the seriousness of the situation. It’s a large-scale disaster.”
Fr. Lamothe noted that several of the Haitian Jesuits’ families in hard-hit areas had been affected. Grandparents of one Jesuit scholastic were seriously injured, and many Jesuits’ families’ houses were destroyed.
Water stands on the floor of the roofless Bishopric Chapel Oct. 7 in the Diocese of Les Cayes, Haiti, in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. (CNS photo/Ruddy Narcisse, PROCHE)
“I feel strong desolation and pain for that natural disaster,” said Haitian Jesuit Pierre Edward Luc, a scholastic currently studying theology at Regis College in Toronto. “It is depressing because it seems like there is no life in the area touched by the hurricane. There is a reality of despair because we cannot communicate with our relatives and friends in the areas affected by the hurricane.”
Destroyed homes are seen Oct. 5 in Jeremie, Haiti. (CNS photo/Carlos Garcia Rawlins, Reuters)
Emergency aid has slowly begun to reach some of the thousands of Haitians displaced by the hurricane in the southwest. Emergency supplies that had been stored in warehouses before the storm were being distributed to people whose homes were turned into matchsticks by Matthew, said Chris Bessey, Haiti country director for Catholic Relief Services (CRS).
People walk past damaged buildings Oct. 9 in Port-a-Piment, Haiti. (CNS photo/Andres Martinez Casares, Reuters)
CRS staff flew into Les Cayes, a city of 71,000 on the southwest coast. Bessey said thousands of people remained in shelters in the city. "I don't know if that is decreasing. I imagine that won't decrease all that quickly because more than 80 percent of the houses were damaged or destroyed," he said.
Residents salvage items from their destroyed home Oct. 5 after Hurricane Matthew swept through Les Cayes, Haiti. Emergency teams in Haiti struggled to reach areas cut off by washed-out bridges and mudslides after Matthew roared over the nation's western tip and began an island-hopping path toward the U.S. coast. (CNS photo/Andres Martinez Casares, Reuters)
Health care workers were also becoming increasingly concerned that cholera would explode throughout the worst hit areas of the Grand'Anse and South departments because of a lack of water and sanitation. Cholera, a water-borne disease, was brought into Haiti in 2010 by U.N. peacekeeping troops. More than 800,000 cases and nearly 10,000 deaths have since been attributed to the illness by Haiti's Department of Public Health and Population.
A boy rests at a makeshift hospital while receiving treatment for cholera in Port-a-Piment, Haiti. (CNS photo/Andres Martinez Casares, Reuters)
In a telegram, Pope Francis offered condolences to “all
those who lost a loved one” and assured “the injured and all those who have lost
their homes and belongings” that he was close to them through prayer.
A woman prays in a roofless church in Torbeck, Haiti, Oct. 9. (CNS photo/Andres Martinez Casares, Reuters)
Meanwhile in the U.S., at least 33 have died from the storm. Catholic Charities agencies joined emergency response efforts in coastal communities in North and South Carolina, Georgia and Florida as residents and parish staffers began to assess the damage Matthew left behind.
A man carries some of his belongings from his home in Lumberton, N.C., as floodwaters rise Oct. 9 in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. (CNS photo/Chris Keane, Reuters)
You can help those affected by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti through the following organizations:
To help those in the U.S., visit www.catholiccharitiesusa.org.