Oct 25, 2016

Three Weeks Later, Haiti in Ruins from Hurricane Matthew's Effects

Jeremie
Haiti
by
Sean Breslin
,
The Weather Channel

Nearly three weeks after Hurricane Matthew made landfall in southwestern Haiti, there are major problems in the hardest-hit areas.

Officials fear the spread of waterborne diseases like cholera and tetanus, especially when additional rain falls.

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"We can tell you that when our teams arrived, they compared the area to that of a bomb blast," Dr. Joanna Cherry, chief medical officer of Hospital Bernard Mevs' Project Medishare in Port-au-Prince, told NPR. "There's no leaves left on any trees. There's very little foliage still standing. There's no shade in any areas. Multiple houses had their roofs taken off during the storm."

One town that took Matthew's most direct hit was Jérémie. According to the Norwich Bulletin, that town experienced devastating winds for a combined nine hours before and after the eye passed. In a developing nation, there's just no way structures can survive a battering of that magnitude.

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Although the death toll varies by a wide margin, local aid groups say hundreds died in Jérémie and the surrounding villages, if not thousands.

"The fatalities being reported in the media are grossly underestimating what has happened," Dr. Jeremiah Lowney, founder of the Haitian Health Foundation, told the Norwich Bulletin.

In Les Cayes, located in Haiti's southwest, there's still no accurate death toll, and Mayor Jean Gabriel Fortune told the Associated Press that some towns may be inflating the number of fatalities in an effort to get additional aid.

"I do think there are Haitians who are boosting numbers with the objective of attracting this relief they have heard about but are not benefiting from," he told the AP. "And I also know that when central government officials claim they have things under control, they don't know what they're talking about."