A prayer SOS went out on 6th September in response to news that Hurricane Irma was headed towards the Caribbean island of Haiti.
Weather reports indicated that the massive hurricane, carving a path of destruction across the Caribbean, was headed straight for Haiti’s north coast.
Mercifully, the storm never made landfall off Haiti’s north coast. ‘Some places saw flooding' said MAF Pilot Michael Broyles who took to the air to survey the damage, ‘but it was localized, and the waters quickly receded. All roads appeared to be open to traffic and houses have their roofs intact.’
Rebuilding after Hurricane Matthew
‘It is an honour to provide the first look at where help may be needed, explained Michael who is part of the 22-strong MAF team based permanently in Haiti to serve 163 partners.
‘I was part of the assessment flight following Hurricane Matthew in 2016, and I was grateful to see the stark contrast between the damage from the two storms’.
In October 2016 and the weeks that followed MAF flew 409 flights, more than 1,000 passengers and 25,839kgs of cargo in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, multiplying the relief efforts of partners providing shelter, clean water, food and medical care on the ground.
Within six months it was business as usual for MAF as the disaster relief phase of the response was replaced by more long-term development projects addressing the embedded causes of poverty.
‘All the relief organisations left a long time ago,’ said MAF Haiti’s Country Director David Carwell explaining the kind of project that had taken their place.
‘Development organisations are more long-term, helping with some of the bigger projects, like schools, churches, bigger structures that needed repair,’ adding that, ‘the region took a hit that’s not easy to bounce back from.’
In a later flight, David could still see the plastic tarps distributed by aid organisations after the hurricane being used as temporary roofs.
The tarps weren’t meant for long-term use, but most people don’t have the money to buy the tin sheets needed to replace them.
A new tin roof over their heads
The Augustin family of eight lost the entire roof on their family home after Hurricane Matthew and had been living under a makeshift roof covered with tarps and pins ever since.
They live in an area of Jeremie called Mòn Fò that was devastated by Hurricane Matthew and where Haiti Bible Mission (HBM) has specifically focused their ministry efforts over the past year.
The family was one of many chosen to receive a new roof by Providence Church in Hanover, Virginia. They now have better protection from the elements and a more comfortable living environment.
MAF flew the Providence team into Jeremie multiple times after the Hurricane. ‘We have been doing 10-12 houses a week,’ said HBM Executive Director Mark Stockeland. ‘But when MAF brings a team to help, we double our production in that week.’
‘Thank you MAF for making it possible for this team- and many other teams- to come to our city and help us rebuild homes and lives. We could not do this without your partnership’ said HBM’s Krista Germeil.
The continued vulnerability of communities was highlighted once more when 72 hours of heavy rain in late April caused flash flooding in Haiti’s Southern Department.
‘5000 homes were destroyed, a large bridge washed away killing 6 people and causing up to 80% of spring crops to fail’ explained pilot Tim Schandorff
‘Many who were just beginning to get back on their feet after Hurricane Matthew ravaged the area lost everything again. Reports of starvation are beginning to come in. Please continue to pray for the people who live in this area’ is Tim’s plea.