In the wake of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake, which hit south-western Haiti on 14 August shortly followed by Tropical Storm Grace, MAF has been responding to the disaster. In the latest tragedy to hit Haiti, MAF has been working with partners in a coordinated relief effort…
Haiti’s earthquake has left more than 2,200 people dead and around 12,000 injured with over 52,000 homes destroyed, according to Haiti’s Civil Defence Agency.
Hospitals are overwhelmed and hundreds of people are still missing. Many essential buildings such as hospitals, schools, churches and offices have been badly damaged or destroyed.
Relief efforts have been hampered somewhat by Storm Grace, which wreaked havoc on Haiti two days after the earthquake hit.
35mph winds and two inches of rain per hour were recorded. Torrential rain poured non-stop over the southern seaport of Les Cayes for 15 hours (source: The Guardian). Flash floods turned streets into rivers, causing landslides.
Gang warfare has also hindered aid getting through to the south via the main road to the region. As a result, aviation aid is more critical than ever. It’s hoped that negotiations between the gangs and government will ease the situation.
UNICEF estimates that 1.2 million people including 540,000 children, have been affected by this disaster.
Medevacs, medics and supplies
Les Cayes has borne the brunt of the damage where half of its buildings have been demolished (source: The Guardian).
Many houses in Haiti are built with poorly made cement and really heavy materials so in the event of an earthquake, they cause catastrophic injuries if they collapse.
In the midst of chaos, MAF has immediately taken to the skies providing as much assistance as possible.
On the day of the earthquake, MAF medevacked six injured survivors from Les Cayes to hospital in Port-au-Prince - Haiti’s capital. MAF has also been transporting families back and forth.
The next day, MAF delivered medical supplies to Jérémie - a city in the south west, which has also been badly affected with its main road and bridge cut off.
Next, MAF transported eight Haitian nurses from a hospital in Pignon in the north to Jérémie down south, in a bid to support fellow medical staff as they treat the wounded.
There are reported water, food and blood shortages in the region.
PPE, painkillers, splints for the injured and tents for those needing safe shelter, are also in short supply (source: The Guardian).
In a bid to meet the shortages in Jérémie, MAF transported a further 800lbs of medical supplies on 20 August from Danita’s Children – a charity based near the Dominican Republic border - accompanied by three of their doctors and five nurses.
Medevacs continue nine days later
Residents who do have homes still standing are reticent to sleep in them in case they collapse in the aftershocks. There are also fears of flooding from remaining stormwaters.
On 23 August – nine days after the earthquake - MAF pilot Eric Fagerland delivered around 2,000 lbs of emergency relief to Jérémie.
The injured in Jérémie include people from the surrounding countryside who have managed to make their way into the city to seek medical help, plus others who have sustained new injuries from collapsing buildings.
Eric was able to medevac some of the injured to Port-au-Prince:
‘Transportation is challenging in Haiti. Some of these folks were seriously injured nine days earlier – broken backs, broken arms, head trauma and broken legs. But when you're in the countryside without any shoes, with only mountain trails and your leg is broken, what do you do? It's heart-wrenching. I'm so glad we’re able to help these people get medical care.’
MAF pilot Eric Fagerland
A catalogue of disasters
MAF has been supporting partners - Samaritan’s Purse, Missionary Flights International and Agape Flights with logistical support.
An additional caravan aircraft from Samaritan’s Purse arrived over the weekend, which will be jointly used by MAF and Samaritan’s Purse for relief flights.
The earthquake and Storm Grace are just the latest disasters to befall Haiti, not to mention the coronavirus pandemic.
Only last month on 7 July, Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated, which has destabilised the government.
Hurricane Matthew claimed nearly 900 lives in 2016, devastating the same southern peninsula.
Neither had the country fully recovered from the 2010 earthquake, which struck Port-au-Prince killing over 200,000 people and reducing much of the capital to rubble.
Once again, Haiti begins its long road to recovery.