On Saturday, MCC staff in Haiti distributed relief kits, water treatment tablets and comforters to 90 families in the Lachappelle community affected by Hurricane Irma.
The category-five hurricane passed north of Haiti on Thursday evening, bringing strong winds and rain to the northern half of the country.
Although Haiti was spared the widespread destruction seen on other Caribbean islands, rural communities in the Artibonite region, where MCC’s Desarmes office is located, experienced significant damage.
Paul Shetler Fast, an MCC representative in Haiti, traveled to the Artibonite on Friday to assess the situation.
“While the headlines from the hurricane reported the big story — that [Hurricane Irma] was less destructive than feared — many communities, even deep in the interior of Haiti, experienced flash floods, heavy winds and loss of homes and livelihoods,” he explained.
MCC photo/Paul Shetler Fast
The Artibonite watershed received the largest concentration of rain from Hurricane Irma, funneling much of the rainfall into dry riverbeds. This resulted in flash flooding that damaged homes and destroyed gardens. Residents of communities like Otovan, in the Lachappelle community, rely on their gardens for income to send their children to school or to buy seeds for the next planting season.
Many of the small communities that MCC works with here are remote, accessible only on foot. They are often overlooked as post-hurricane relief efforts are concentrated in coastal areas.
“Without going to these communities in person, wading through those rivers and talking to people face to face, you wouldn’t hear their stories and we wouldn’t be able to help,” says Shetler Fast.