Words By: Aliyah Weems
More than a week after Hurricane Matthew ripped through Haiti, the death toll continues to rise, as millions of people are without food, shelter and aid, and the nation’s infrastructure remains devastated.
Joseph Edgard Celestin, a spokesman for Haiti’s Civil Protection Service, has reported that at least 336 people have died since Matthew made landfall in Haiti on Tuesday. However, other reports estimate that the death toll has risen to 1,000 people, but due to some areas of the country being hit the hardest communication efforts remains difficult.
The powerful storm struck the southwestern peninsula with winds of 145 mph that left town
s such as Les Cayes, Port Salut, Coteaux, and Jeremie completely devastated with 1.4 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. Eighty to ninety percent of the buildings are flattened and some towns have been completely wiped off the map.
Dorothy Jean, a third year Health Care Management student from Tampa, Fla., whose family’s friends lost their home in the storm speaks about the devastation and how it is affecting people in Haiti.
“This is a very heartbreaking situation because people lost everything that they had.” said Jean. “From what I’ve been told, it’s a lot worse than what is being shown in the media. Haiti has been through so much and needs all the help they can get”.
Officials told the United Nations that women and children are among the worst affected by Matthew and has launched a campaign to raise $120 million in emergency funding for “life-saving” aid.
Ninety percent of the crops have been destroyed and according to spokeswoman for the aid group Mercy Corps, Christy Delafield, the nation is now looking at a food crisis for this year and possibly even longer if farmers and the people of Haiti don’t receive help.
“It is going to be awhile before all the facts come out and we really understand how bad it is,” Delafield tells ABC News.
In addition to the damage and depletion of resources, the risk of a renewed spike in cases of cholera has increased because of the storm. Cholera is a bacterial infection that is highly contagious in areas lacking clean water that has sickened 80,000 people and killed 10,000 since its outbreak after the 2010 earthquake.
Roosevelt Zamos of Haiti’s Civil Protection agency has confirmed that 40 people have been infected with cholera, 8 people have died and at least a dozen of the new patients at the open-air cholera treatment center in Jeremie were under the age of 10. The treatment center had no running water on Monday.
Victoria Whyte, a second year English student whose family’s friends were affected by the storm, expressed her frustration with the lack of help that Haiti is receiving.
“There is not enough coverage and not enough is being done quickly enough” Whyte said. “There are families and children without clean water and food and this disaster is still not getting the attention that it deserves”.
Mercy Corps has been distributing shelter kits to those who lost their homes and has begun efforts to think about longer term recovery projects to help rebuild.
For more information on ways to help those affected by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, visit: