MAF’s disaster response ramps up in Haiti

Published: 13 Oct 2016

MAF is continuing its relief work in Haiti as we respond to the desperate need for flights to Haiti's hurricane-battered coastal communities.

The partner organisations our team in Haiti team has flown this week include Samaritan’s Purse, HERO, World Concern, CARE, Christian Aid Mission, Medair, Global Orphan Project, Children’s Hope, Sonlight, and Food for the Hungry.

As of 11 October, MAF completed 71 disaster flights, carried 233 passengers, and delivered 5,378kg of cargo.

Here are three of the towns we're reaching that were severely affected.

Dame Marie: homes destroyed…

Aerial view of hurricane devastation in Haiti - MAF

Linda Brooks, from England originally, works in Dame Marie with Solidarity Dame-Marian helping children to access education. Although evidently shaken by what she has experienced, Linda is thankful for MAF’s continuing support.

‘The national highway runs along the coast, all the way up from Dame Marie through three or four other cities beyond it. And all those houses are gone’. Linda begins.

‘Every single home along the coast for miles and miles and miles are gone. That’s hundreds of homes. They’re all completely wiped. You would never even know that there were houses there. All you have now is sand and conk shells.’

Hurricane Matthew damage in Dame Marie, Haiti. MAF

‘And people lived in those homes. It’s really crucial now that we find some kind of alternative, that we get tarps in there. It’s going to be really important to get some sort of tent city set up.’

Walking around an area on the edge of Dame Marie it is clear that it isn’t just homes that had been destroyed. What appears to be school books laid out in orderly rows to dry in the Haitian sun, suggests that many of its schools have fared little better.

Nearby a felled tree has become a makeshift washing line - shaken inhabitants are still sifting and salvaging their precious possessions from the storms debris.

‘In the city centre homes are also damaged’ Linda continues. 'They haven’t completely fallen down but they are severely damaged. They have structure, the walls mostly, but they’ve all lost their roofs.’

Linda Brooks on hurricane assessment trip in Dame Marie Haiti. MAF

‘MAF, it’s amazing what they’re doing’ Linda shares, taking time to encourage us in our work.

‘They’re working 24-7 to get supplies in, to get people in, to get people out. I’ve already done 3 or 4 medevacs with them. On the flights that I’ve been in, they don’t even question when I say, “This person has to get to Port-au-Prince. We need to medevac them.” They just say, “Yep! Put them on. We’ll find space.”

‘They are working consistently to assist.... people that are asking for flights, to get supplies in, to get medical teams in, to get relief teams in, to get people who are looking for family in. They’re trying to fit it all in. These people are doing an incredible job and they need to be supported so they continue to do that.’

Jeremie: 'hot, humid, destroyed'

Hurricane Matthew damage in Jacmel - MAF

The coastal town of Jeremie was battered by 145mph winds when hurricane Mathew hit. The town was directly in its path. The MAF pilot used three words to describe the situation on the on the ground once the storm had passed: ‘Hot, humid, and destroyed’.

‘Trees are either bereft of their foliage or knocked down like matchsticks. Any doors or windows of buildings are blown out and gone. Hurricane Matthew has compounded the effects of deforestation in a few short days, through no fault of the locals’.

MAF flew to Jeremie to carry a survey team of staff from three organisations, Feed the Hungry, Engineer Ministry International, and a Korean relief team, to assess the need.

Hurricane Matthew assessment flight - MAF aircraft

The statistics behind the images are hardly any better – more than 450 people are thought to have died here. The thriving town now lies in ruins, its inhabitant facing the herculean task of rebuilding.

Port-Salut: health concerns

Farther west down the coast, Port-Salut had not yet begun to received relief supplies when MAF flew in with a medical team bound for Klinik Timoun nou yo (Creole for Our Children's Medical Clinic).

While waiting for her MAF flight to depart, Boston physician, Robin Horak from the Charity ‘No Time for Poverty’, shared the medical needs she will be helping to meet in the paediatric clinic.

‘We serve up to about 75,000 children every year in that area; we cover most of the southern department. After the hurricane, most of our families have lost at least all or part of their homes.

‘We’re seeing a large increase in diarrhoeal diseases – both typhoid and cholera – so we’re bringing IV fluids, supplies to start IVs, antibiotics to treat those conditions; we’re also bringing suture and gauze and antibiotic ointments; we suspect we’ll still be seeing a good amount of skin infections.

‘We’re also bringing some basic supplies to shore up our clinic and our staff, some tarps, some basic food as well as some clothing, especially for our infants and small children where our families have lost everything, and they now don’t have any blankets or clothes for those children.

‘We are extremely lucky. Only about three days ago I got in contact with MAF and asked if we could get a plane to help us move these objects, all the supplies, to Port Salut. The roads right now are both dangerous as well as it’s very difficult to get through. So we’ve no other way to move these supplies.

MAF aircraft loading supplies for Klinik timoun nou yo - Hurricane Matthew relief, Haiti

Hurricane Matthew damage in Haiti - taken from MAF survey flight

‘It was wonderful to get a flight to Les Cayes today, which will allow us to move all of our supplies into Port Salut and up the coast where many of those communities have actually not received any support yet. MAF is really one of the only organisations that is consistently in Haiti, and actually is always willing to move supplies and people, not just to Port Salut but to other parts of Haiti. We’re very appreciative that that service is available and how quickly they’re willing to respond to needs.’