Hurricane Matthew: Responding to Haiti devastation

Hurricane Matthew photos, Haiti. Mom and daughter walk toward their collapsed home through flooded streets

6 minute read

Water inundates Boudain, a community on La Gonâve island, one of the areas of Haiti hardest hit by Hurricane Matthew. Ivonne and her daughter Cindia, 8, walk toward their collapsed home. “I really do not know what I will do,” she says. World Vision supports 100 children in Boudain through sponsorship and is bringing relief supplies. (©2016 World Vision, Claudia Martinez)

Help provide immediate hurricane relief to children and families in need.

Hurricane Matthew’s hit Haiti on Oct. 4 with torrential rain, massive storm surge, and winds up to 145 mph. More than 2 million people have been affected, including nearly 900,000 children. World Vision is delivering relief supplies and assistance, so far reaching nearly 30,000 people. World Vision is also assisting families affected by flooding and hurricane damage in the U.S. Read more about our U.S. response >

‘Our teams are shocked at the depth of destruction’

The litany of Haiti’s losses and needs grows as relief workers reach remote areas of mountainous Haiti that were cut off by downed trees, crumbled bridges, and mudslides. The death toll is expected to exceed 1,000. Nearly 62,000 people are known to be displaced and staying in temporary shelters.

“There are areas where people haven’t eaten much or had access to clean water in days,” says World Vision’s National Director John Hasse. “Each time we reach a new remote area, people rush up to our teams desperate for supplies.”

John says though World Vision’s Haitian staff have experienced many storms, “They are still shocked at how the landscape has been flattened, as well as the amount of buildings, trees, and crops that are destroyed. Our teams are just shocked at the depth of the destruction.”

World Vision’s assessment team and partners in the hardest-hit area of Haiti’s southwest peninsula are seeing 80 to 90 percent of homes damaged or destroyed. On the island of La Gonâve, where World Vision assists 10,000 sponsored children and their families, as many as 50 percent of houses are damaged.

Hurricane matthew haiti response infographic

A father’s cry for help: ‘We have lost all’

Enivens, 10, sits on broken blocks where his home used to be. Hurricane Matthew knocked it down. His family lives in Kenscoff, a bustling agricultural and market town with narrow and crowded streets next to Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital.

Authorities say 625 homes there are damaged or destroyed. More than 2,000 cows were lost. As many as 110 families are sleeping in temporary shelters at schools, churches, and even voodoo centers.

“For now, we have a place to sleep, but we have lost all,” says Enock, 42, Enivens’ father. “I hope people can help us, my children need a safe place to live.”

Enivens’ mom, Nathalie, and sisters Taninia, 18, and Bilandie, 15, walk to the river with buckets on their heads to get water for the family. They know it’s not safe to drink, but because of the hurricane damage they can’t go to town to get clean water from tanks.

Meeting top needs: Food, water, shelter, health


A large portion of Haiti’s food is produced in the south where the damage is most severe, says John. Hurricane Matthew destroyed many crops as they were coming close to harvest.

For people who have lost all their crops “it’s not just about getting immediate relief supplies, it’s more like what happens next week, what happens next month?” John says.

Food security and malnutrition, especially among children, were already a concern. In some of the storm-affected areas, about 30 percent of children show signs of stunting, which indicates long-term hunger.

World Vision was helping to make good progress in areas like children’s nutrition following the drought in 2015, and 2016 had been a good year for crops.

“Now we’re scared that we’re going to see decline again because of the storm,” John says.

We’re working to address immediate needs, but we have to keep in mind that there will be food shortages for many families in the weeks and months to come as a result of this storm.”

World Vision’s food response

“In many of the new areas we reach, all of peoples’ food sources are gone and they don’t have a lot stored. We’re providing meals to keep people from going hungry right now. Then as markets open back up we’ll be providing cash for them to buy the food they need. Looking ahead to the coming weeks we’ll be helping people restore their ability to do agriculture through seeds and other assistance.”

Short term: Meals, cash and food vouchers

Long term: Seed distribution, agriculture support; assistance to build incomes

Water and sanitation

Families without clean water and sanitation are at high risk of cholera and other diseases related to dirty water, which are especially dangerous for children. Clean water is a chronic issue in Haiti.

World Vision has been doing some innovative work to address water issues there. In fact, our work has completely eradicated cholera in many communities, prompting village leaders in surrounding areas to seek our help in their communities, too.

Distributing clean water and water purification tablets, and repairing water systems are a priority to prevent disease outbreaks, John says.

World Vision’s clean water response

Short term: Distribute jerry cans, water purification tabs or filters, hygiene kits

Long term: Repair water points, construct latrines

Shelter, health, education and other needs

Shelter will be a big focus in the medium to long term, say Haiti staff. Shelter kits with tarps and tie-downs, along with hygiene and household goods, will help to tide them over until roofing materials and other necessities can be provided.

John sees the bigger picture; it’s about a quality of life that supports children and families. “In the long term we need to be working with the communities to help them define how they want their communities be so we can help them get there.”

We will be asking questions like ‘what do you want your community to look like and how can we help you achieve that vision? What do you want your school to look like?’

World Vision’s support to children and families

Short term: Child-Friendly Spaces; tarps, mosquito nets, household goods

Medium to long term: Rehabilitation of schools and clinics; roofing kits

Haiti team distributes relief supplies

Within hours after Hurricane Matthew’s wind and rain subsided, World Vision staff in Haiti began distributing blankets, toiletries, and bottled water to Port-au-Prince families displaced by the storm. The organization had pre-positioned relief supplies such as tarps, blankets, water containers, and hygiene kits to quickly assist impacted families.

World Vision’s relief operations are in Nippes and Sud, on the southwest peninsula, La Gonâve island, and the outskirts of Port-au-Prince.

World Vision programs in 200 rural and urban communities in Haiti serve more than 900,000 people, including 58,000 sponsored children.

How you can help

  • Pray for the people of Haiti. Ask God to bring comfort to the children and families who have lost so much.
  • Donate now to help provide relief and supplies to those affected by the hurricane in Haiti.
  • Sponsor a child in Haiti.
  • Help us prepare for a hurricane response on the U.S. East Coast.
  • Help raise funds for hurricane relief with a fundraising page.

Help provide hurricane relief to children and families in need.

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