Hurricane Thomas 1 - Waiting….
Hurricane Thomas left much destruction in its wake. Thank God most of that was not in Port au Prince. In fact, our worst fears – that the hurricane would hit the capital and all the tent cities – did not become a reality. Port au Prince was spared from the brunt of the storm. And so were we at the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Community in Solino. We had prepared oursleves to recive refugees and to provide medical, pastoral and humanitarian assitance – including shelter, but in the end that was not necessary.
The rain in Port au Prince was significant and many canals flooded, but the damage was minimal in large part because there was little wind. To what shall we attribute this sparing of Port au Prince? No doubt the prayers of many played a significant role!
I am now in Miami, USA and many people have told me that they prayed significantly that the Hurricane would not hit the capital of Port au Prince. And we of the community of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Solino prayed as well. We held adoration of the Blessed Sacrament; prayed the World Mission Rosary and celebrated a special mass as Hurricane Thomas was deciding which way to go: north to the capital or northwest to Les Cayes. Well, much to the chagrin of those in Les Cayes, Thomas decided to visit that city in the south of Haiti (see the map).
The President of Haiti, Rene Preval, visted Les Cayes as well. And he also made a stop in Leogane – a city leveld by the January 12 earthquake because of its proximity to the epicenter. Leogane is not far from Port au Prince, and it suffered significant flooding because of Thomas. In Les Cayes and other southwestern coastal towns – some of which were swept away - roofs were ripped off, tents cities were turned to quaigmires, roads were washed out, and crops ruined. The agriculture loss as a result of Thomas has been very significant. In some places there was complete destruction.
Along with visiting Les Cayes and Leogane, Thomas struck many of our friends in Carcasse and the surrounding areas, where we have earthquake programs to feed orphans and an agricultural and animal husbandry-based microfinance project. Carcasse is on the coast between Jeremie and Port Salut (see the map).
We have already received appeals for help from Fr. Verdieu – our primary colaborator there, and Sr. Mona, with whom we have been discussing a reconstruction project to help rebuild a school/convent devastated by the January 12 earthquake. Sr. Mona wrote Theresia Sinaga, her primary contact in our organization, and made a cry for help. Sr. Mona and her students were apparently hit hard by Thomas.
The first reports and pictures indicate that there was significant damage in and around Carcasse and Ilwa and towards Jeremie. Our primary collaborator in the area, Fr. Verdieu Joassaint, was stranded in Jeremie at the time of the Hurricane. He just returned to Carcasse and is sending us the first photos of the destruction.
Fr. Verdieu, together with Theresia Sinaga – the program director of our activities in Carcasse, along with MarcDaly Joassaint, her assistant – are deciding how to move forward. Stay tuned and consider helping us help those in the areas affected by Thomas. CTF-SOS DRS has already appropriated a significant amount of money to help our friends and those affected by Thomas. Please join us.