Emergency Blog, Haiti

On the Road to Jérémie

  • October 17, 2016
  • Julie Hard, Emergency Response Manager
  • Newsroom, Emergency Response

The drive to Grand-Anse took more than 8 hours. We left at 4:00 this morning and could hardly believe the amount of devastation that became the expansive landscape throughout the south and in Grand-Anse. As we drove on from Les Cayes where the Americares team has been based while coordinating with the Ministry of Health and providing medicines to clinics and medical teams, we saw Matthew’s merciless path as it tore through the mountains heading to Jérémie.

We stopped at one clinic - its roof ripped from its foundations and no sign of life within its walls, just destruction. Apparently, there had been many deaths in the area. The clinic was closed, and no sign of medical staff could be found. The survivors in the town now need to hike for several hours to receive any medical attention.

Another clinic "Centre de Sante de Carrefour Charles" was also without a roof but we found two nurses inside stitching up a man's leg that had become severely cut by metal sheet roofing. The nurses were happy to speak with me and told me they had received only one cholera case but were also concerned that no one had visited them to deliver aid, instead choosing to head directly to Jérémie. They were low on supplies and asked us for some basic wound care bandaging from Americares stock.

Wounds and dirty, contaminated water do not mix. The Centre of Hope clinic has been receiving hundreds of people with infected wounds. 

The landscape became progressively worse as we approached Jérémie, and although the road was clear, several areas were affected by landslides, flooding and fallen trees.  People sit among the debris and broken pieces of their homes and lives. Twisted metal from the cell phone towers, housing rebar, and church roofing struts lay in heaps on the ground - a stark contrast to the tiny tin sheet dwellings that are found nestled in the rubble. Signs are appearing that after 9 days, people are working to pick up the pieces. 

As we drove through town, I could no longer recognize my usual landmarks. Buildings had collapsed, the beautiful canopy of trees had gone missing to be replaced by gnarled trees uprooted or snapped and fractured into pieces. It is a disaster beyond description, and we still don't know how many of the smaller towns and rural communities are managing. 

The need is all around us. We have much work to do.