SIGORA HAITI UPDATE POST-HURRICANE MATTHEW
An overview of the situation on the ground following Hurricane Matthew from the Sigora team in Haiti.
On Tuesday, October 4th, Hurricane Matthew made landfall on Haiti. Matthew passed directly through the Southern peninsula – encompassing Haiti’s entire southern coast – driving the sea inland and flattening homes with winds of up to 145mph and torrential rain. The cities of Les Cayes, on the southwest coast, and Jeremie, in the northwest, were said to be particularly hit hard by the strongest storm to strike the Caribbean region in a decade.
At least 1000 people are believed to have died, and tens of thousands of homes have been destroyed. In total, the U.N. says 1.4 million Haitians are in need of assistance out of 2.1 million affected by the hurricane. In addition to the deaths and destruction wrought by the storm, the hurricane has devastated Haiti’s natural resources and accelerated the rate of cholera propagation.
“Unfortunately, once again, nature has unleashed her fury and Haiti has lived through what I can characterize as three days of terror,” said interim President Jocelerme Privert after the storm.
After landing on Haiti’s South peninsula and making its way across the gulf of La Gonave, Hurricane Matthew came within 75 miles of Mole-St-Nicolas as it veered toward Cuba on its way northward.
Heavy rains, high winds and a large storm surge pounded the coast. Damage included roofs shorn off of houses, collapsed homes, downed trees, widespread flooding and extensive damage to roads and bridges. There have been no deaths or serious injuries in Mole however the property damage is extensive as well as in many of the surrounding towns in the Northwest. The entire Sigora team and their families survived the storm unscathed. Neither our office nor any of our equipment was severely damaged.
In advance of the approaching storm, Sigora executed significant hurricane preparations to the grids in Mole and Presqu’île in order to limit potential damage. Fallen trees and debris did affect the high and low voltage lines resulting in temporary interruption of service. In Presqu’île, a small fishing village with 50 homes, primarily fishing huts across the bay from Mole, many of the houses connected to the grid were destroyed. In the immediate aftermath of the hurricane we deployed staff and equipment to support emergency evacuations within the municipality.
Power Restored Within 55 Hours
While hundreds of thousands across the country are still without electricity, our team was able to restore full power to Mole within 55 hours of the storm.
As soon as the emergency rescue efforts were over, our Haitian lineman and technicians made restoring power a first priority. 24/7 power was restored at 8:16PM on Thursday, 6 October after a total outage period of just 55 hours. This enabled lights to go back on in the clinic that was operating around the clock to treat the wounded and in the schools and churches that were providing emergency shelter to those who lost their homes; it allowed people to charge cell phones, contact worried family, and coordinate relief efforts.
Sigora Haiti Assists With Emergency Relief Efforts
Our teams in Mole and Port-au-Prince are working to bring desperately needed assistance to those affected by Hurricane Matthew.
Many of our staff in the NW are from Mole or one of the nearby towns, and there is a strong sense of solidarity with the community. Within 48 hours of Matthew making landfall, our team organized the purchase (from local vendors), packing and distribution of over 100 packages of emergency aid, including rice, cooking oil, water purification tablets and tarps for those worst-affected by the storm.
In the week since the storm our team has continued to assist customers in Mole to complete essential repairs to homes damaged by the hurricane and have been leading clean-up efforts to clear the vast amounts of debris and wreckage deposited in the wake of the storm.
In the South West of the country, the area hardest hit by the storm, our teams have been working with local organizations to distribute emergency relief packages and essential supplies to hard-to-reach communities that in many instances have been neglected by the wider-response, which to date has focused on the larger urban centers. Sigora has distributed 100,000 water purification units, enough to purify 400,000 litres of water – essential to help prevent the spread of cholera – as well as 250 emergency kits.
The humanitarian situation remains dire and we will be working with our local partners to scale-up immediate emergency assistance to hard-to-reach communities over the coming weeks. More information to follow shortly.