Hurricane Matthew: “Every person in Haiti is vulnerable”

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CARE
A photo taken by CARE staff in Grand Anse, a department in the south-west of Haiti, as the storm began to make landfall

Speaking from Haiti as Hurricane Matthew was passing over the country, Laura Sewell, Assistant Country Director for CARE Haiti, said:

Every person in Haiti is vulnerable. It’s the worst hurricane we’ve seen since 1954.

People in rural areas are particularly vulnerable. The south has 60,000 pregnant women. What’s going to happen to those women? It’s something we’re really worried about.

Laura said the hurricane is expected to cause huge damage:

“The government declared a red alert two days ago; closed schools, the airport and encouraged people to move to shelter. We’ve seen the number of people (moving to shelter) go from 400 to over 2,000. But that’s only a small percentage of people.”

There are still many, many people who are staying in their homes and will be affected by the hurricane.

“The hurricane is moving at an incredibly slow pace. It made landfall at 5 am and we’re not expecting it to clear until 8 or 9 pm tonight (Haiti time). It will spend the whole day hovering over the country.”

There’s a risk of flooding. The country is very mountainous so there’s a good chance of mud slides. Whenever there’s a lot of rain there’s a chance of water borne diseases like cholera. The wave size is also huge and has destroyed houses on the coast.

As one of the largest humanitarian agencies in Haiti, CARE has been working with the Haiti government since Saturday to disseminate Hurricane warning messages, and has staff dispersed throughout the country ready to respond. CARE has deployed staff to the Grand Anse, a department on the southern peninsula of Haiti, where access will be difficult after the storm. There, supplies such as clean drinking water, tarps and blankets for emergency shelter and hygiene kits, are pre-positioned for quick distribution.

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Hurricane Matthew over Haiti
An image of Hurricane Matthew passing over Haiti, provided by the United States Naval Research Laboratory
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News and stories are provided by CARE staff working to support our emergency responses and long-term development programmes.