The Path of the Hurricane
After Hurricane Matthew cut a deadly path through the Caribbean and battered the coast of the southern U.S., our Emergency Team responded immediately and continues to support health services in Haiti, the country that suffered the full force of a Category 4 storm. Working with our local partners, Americares distributed aid shipments in the impact region, strengthened a distribution system, assessed needs, and supported basic health care for survivors. An emergency team also responded in the Carolinas providing medicine and supplies for free clinics in flooded communities.
In the year following the hurricane, our emergency team worked with the Ministry of Public Health and Population and local partners to assess needs, establish warehouse facilities to handle distribution, coordinate relief efforts and get health care to survivors with mobile medical teams staffed by Haitian physicians and nurses. Americares initial emergency shipment was among the first aid to arrive in Les Cayes, following a perilous journey through washed out bridges, landslides and other obstacles. Our emergency manager reported that many communities beyond Les Cayes had been almost completely leveled. Our Haiti staff in Port-au-Prince continued coordinating and helping to deliver current and future shipments of aid, which include intravenous fluids to treat cholera and medical supplies to treat storm-related injuries and other ongoing health needs.
As our emergency team supported relief efforts to help devastated areas, our five mobile medical teams provided care for patients in communities near Les Cayes, treating more than 32,500 patients. We delivered more than $18 million in aid for Hurricane Matthew survivors in the impact zone. We have also made repairs to four damaged health facilities, staffed two cholera treatment centers and trained health workers on cholera prevention. In addition, Americares continues to support Medical Outreach teams on trips to Haiti.
“Now, more than a year after the storm, Americares remains in Haiti. We are committed to creating pathways to health and opportunity for families throughout the country.”
JP Fisher, Emergency Team
Hurricane Matthew battered Haiti’s southern coast on Oct. 4, the worst storm to hit the country in decades, destroying entire communities with a death toll reported by many sources at near 1,000 and an estimated 1.4 million people in need of aid. At least 175,000 persons were without adequate shelter, and thousands of children were unable to return to school. As many as 750,000 people were in need of safe water with more than 38,000 children under the age of five at risk of acute malnutrition. Food insecurity remained an issue as the storm affected planting season. Among those who faced urgent health care needs were thousands of women who gave birth in areas affected by the hurricane. In addition to storm injuries, survivors encountered overcrowded shelters and flooding, raising the risk of waterborne disease and making cholera prevention and treatment resources a continuing priority.
Following an initial deployment to Florida to offer assistance before and after the hurricane, an Americares emergency response team traveled up the coast to Georgia and the Carolinas where they worked with our U.S. free and charitable clinic partners who faced great challenges in providing health care to their low-income patients after major flooding. We delivered shipments of medicine and medical supplies including insulin and Tdap vaccine along with basic relief items such as first aid kits, hygiene kits, blankets and bottled water. Our team continued to assess the longer-term needs of our clinic and community partners, including mental health and psychosocial support to health care and social service providers as well as supplies and equipment to protect and support residents and volunteers mucking out and gutting flooded homes. “We’re the forgotten here, but not by Americares,” says Libba Carroll, executive operations manager at the Sumpter Clinic in South Carolina.
Americares relief workers are among the first to respond to emergencies and stay as long as needed, helping to restore health services for survivors. The organization responds to an average of 30 natural disasters and humanitarian crises worldwide each year, establishes long-term recovery projects and brings disaster preparedness programs to vulnerable communities. Americares has been working in Haiti since 1984. Over the years, we have responded to dozens of emergencies in the island nation including the 2010 Haiti earthquake and the ensuing cholera epidemic. We have been a primary, life-saving resource for the treatment and prevention of cholera, a major health threat in the aftermath of the storm.