2010-11 Hurricane Thomas
I did not know what lay ahead for Therese, Marc Daly and Vickens as I missioned them on December 15 to the earthquake, hurricane and now cholera-affected areas of Jeremie, Carcasse, Les Irois, Marfranc, and Desormoux in southern Haiti. I prayed over and with them in our Divine Mercy Chapel of the community in Solino (Port au Prince). I asked the Lord that they would be instruments of His mercy according to our mission.
This would be Therese’s 5th mission to the area, Marc Daly’s 3rd, and Vicken’s 1st. Therese and Marc Daly had just returned to Port au Prince from doing an analysis of the situation in the affected area in the wake of Hurricane Thomas that devastated southern Haiti in early November. Particularly hard hit were Les Cayes and the area of our earthquake relief project, Carcasse.
Therese was the first to go to Carcasse back in July 2010. We had learned in June from our now primary collaborator, Fr. Verdieu, a priest of the Diocese of Jeremie, that there were many young people orphaned by the earthquake who were getting very little food every day. In fact, the school was not able to give them any food and they were an extra mouth for their new families. So Therese went to the area and instituted a feeding and a microfinance program. We decided that the food for the feeding program would last through the 16th of December and then be replaced by the products of the microfinance program. So we helped the people plant rice, vegetables, bananas and other plants and then purchased goats, chickens, pigs and cows. And they were off..planting and cultivating. Well, so much for the best-laid plans of men (and women). Man proposes and God disposes they say.
Hurricane Thomas arrived in Carcasse quite unexpectedly in early November. As the storm approached Haiti we were in the community in Solino (Port au Prince) waiting for it to hit there. That is what it was supposed to do. But Thomas decided to go left rather than straight and hit southern Haiti instead of Port au Prince. And hit it did – hard.
Carcasse, the location of our feeding program was, devastated. The whole rice crop was destroyed as were the vegetables. One goat was killed. Worse yet, many people lost their homes and their gardens – the only source of food for many of them.
So soon after the hurricane in early November Therese and Marc Daly went back to Carcasse. I remember when she called me and said, “it is much worse than I thought!”. Over time Therese and Marc would visit and identify 300 families thar were particularly devastated by the hurricane. They had lost part or all of their homes, food and/or animals. They had great humanitarian and pastoral needs.
Therese and Marc also visited Sister Mona in Marfranc. There they wanted to follow up on our initiative to help her rebuild the school that had been partially destroyed by the earthquake and then hit very hard by the hurricane. And the convent was affected as well. The students were studying in tents.
Similarly, T and MD went to Desormoux to speak with the local pastor. He had requested help with the reconstruction of the roof of the church. It was lifted off and taken away by the strong gusts of the hurricane. Therese told the priest that we would repair it for him: she could not accept that people were celebrating out in the open and subject to the ever-present rains of the area.
Finally, MD and T went to Les Irois, another town on the coast of Haiti much larger than Carcasse or Desormoux. Fr. Francine – the pastor of the local parish – needed support for the schooling of many young people orphaned by the earthquake. We agreed to sponsor 200 children and increased the budget of our sponsorship program that already supports some 150 students in Port au Prince.
After their return to Port au Prince we planned for another mission. They were to go on Sunday December 10 to implement our newly developed hurricane-relief program, which would involve mostly emergency food relief, some reconstruction and pastoral care. Well, once again there would be an unexpected wrench in the works: some of the Haitians were not too happy with the results of the November 28th presidential election – especially when they found out some 9 days later.
On December 7th they started burning tires in the middle of many of the roads in Port au Prince and in other places as well. There were protests in the street, looting and violence directed by the supporters of one candidate against those of another. We could not leave our community for four days. This meant that we were unable to prepare for the mission, go to the bank, or finalize the purchase of the vehicle that we planned to use for the mission as a mobile medical clinic. But the Lord truly writes straight with crooked lines.
The Lord was teaching us patience as we waited – “locked up” in the community and carrying out our normal daily activities including those liturgical (adoration, the world mission rosary, and mass). Meanwhile patients were still receiving medical treatment in our front yard and those with suspected cholera were being cared for in the space on the side of the community in the newly constructed intermediate cholera treatment facility. And then the clouds dispersed and the sun shone through: the violence stopped and we were able to leave the community. The roads were navigable once again. Yeah!
In one day – one jam-packed 24 hours – after our daily liturgical activities and as a result of splitting into 2 teams, we accomplished all we had to do to prepare for the mission: we went to the local tax and immigration office to extend Theresia’s visa; purchased a vehicle that would serve as a mobile clinic and for the mission; transferred the title; got insurance for it; went to the bank to get money to buy the new vehicle and the upcoming mission, etc; paid the bills for our mobile internet devices and the wireless in the community (our only connections with the outside world and a life-saving form of communication at times!), purchased a new inverter (the previous one “died”. The inverter converts AC to DC and helps provide for electricity in the house as it allows us to store power in a series of batteries. The local power grid in Port au Prince is very undependable and there can be no electricity for days at a time in the community. We do have a small generator as well but we had no more oil to run it: there was a run on 5w30 oil in the wake of the elections with the violence, and we could not find any oil in the marketplace); refilled 9 five-gallon jugs of potable water (to save money we buy water in this quantity. The 9 jugs would be used in the community and for the mission. We were actually quite happy to be able to get the water because we had to start to purify the water that we normally use for bathing, etc. that comes from a big reservoir that collects the rainwater that falls on our roof. We purified the water with iodine-tablets but they were only so many. We had purchased extra water as the cholera epidemic began to spread in Port au Prince, but with the violence we were caught unawares. And since we could not go out of the community our water supply started to diminish significantly. The iodine-purified water proved to be pretty good – not as good as normal water though. So when the violence stopped we headed quickly to refill our jugs.); and mission supplies (food, telephone cards, diesel fuel, etc.). Therese even bought some small Christmas presents for the community…all part of a day’s work.
And so we were ready for the mission – to help those affected by the earthquake, hurricane and the cholera epidemic. I didn’t know exactly what to expect though as I sent Therese, MD and Vickens out the door of our Divine Mercy Chapel at 5 o’clock in the morning. But I trusted the Lord that they would do his work and return safely. Stay tuned.
Fr. ScottRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Hurricane Thomas 3 - MarcDaly and Therese go to the site of the Hurricane
Hurricane Thoma 2 -We were spared but our friends were not
Dear Fr. Scott,
Health and peace to you.
As I am writing this email to you I just want to let you know that I am already in Carcasse. The mission continues. Marc and I are doing well. We are keeping busy with the Lord’s work. Fr. Verdieu is doing well also. He greets you as well.
Fr. S, yesterday I went to visit Desourmaux and Iroix. They are on the coast between Jeremie and Salut. Much to the chagrin of those in these places and in Les Cayes, Thomas decided to visit them in the south of Haiti (see the map) last week.
Desourmaux and Iroix were hit hard by the cyclone. It was bad. There is a parish named St. Michel in Desourmaux under the Diocese of Jeremie that was destroyed by the cyclone. The parish priest’s name is Fr. De Jean Wagnel and he is looking for help to renovate the church and also a school. The roof of the church is destroyed. I will send you some pictures. Now the parishioners are praying and having mass in a tent. But sometimes the tent collapses because of heavy wind.
Desourmaux was hit by the cyclone bad. This is the second time for them to have this problem in 1 year. It was 5 months ago that the church was hit by a cyclone and now it happened again. They don’t have enough resources to renovate the church. I don’t know what are your thoughts about this. I am looking forward to talk with you regarding this situation.
In Iroix the parish is looking for help to build the chapel which was also destroyed by the cyclone. They have 5 station churches, and all of them are destroyed. I don’t know how can we help them. I would like to talk to you also regarding this situation. You know the church is very important for the people. That is a place for people to pray and to worship together. I would like if it is possible for our budget to support them. Of course we need to calculate and see how we can work together. I could not believe it when I saw all the damage caused by the cyclone. I thought it was not really bad because in PaP there was little damage. But here it is very much worse.
Many houses were destroyed and many gardens are gone because of the cyclone. Many church are collapsed. Anyway, first let us put them in our prayers, and please we need to think for them how to support them to give them hope for the future.
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.
Hurricane Thomas 2 - We were spared; our friends were not.
Haiti is under siege: the earthquake; the cholera epidemic and Hurricane Thomas. Cholera has reached Port au Prince, but it did so only after Hurricane Thomas devastated much of the southwestern part of Haiti.
To which disaster should we respond? All of them, according to our resources and in a prudent but courageous way. That has been our choice.
Transportation to the area affected area by the Hurricane has been difficult since it struck. Roads have been blocked and vehicles unavailable. However, MarcDaly and Theresia, two members of CTF-SOS DRS that normally live and work in Port au Prince at the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Community were finally able to go to the Hurricane-affected area, less than a week after the storm struck.
Our friends in the area had appealed for our help immediately: Sr. Mona and Fr. Verdieu and their communities were affected significantly by the hurricane. Here is Theresia’s first communication for this assessment/relief mission during which she and MarcDaly will among other things:
1. Assess the damage done by the Hurricane in anticipation of developing a relief program.
2 Assess the status of our post-quake feeding and microfinance programs in Carcasse as they lay in the path of the Hurricane.
3. Assess the damage done by the earthquake to a school that is still very much in need of repair and run by Sr. Mona’s community.
4 – Provide some immediate pastoral relief and support to affected people, including our friends in the area.
5 – Consider a proposal to help some children in Jeremie who were rendered orphans by the earthquake. They are in need of assistance in order to attend school.
Dear Fr. Scott,
As you read my email I am already in Marfranc, Jeremie. I arrived this morning at 4 AM. I went with MD yesterday afternoon at 4 PM from PaP by public transportation. I decided to leave yesterday because there was an offer made by Sr. Mona to pick us up at Au Cayes. Thank God we arrived well and safe, even though the road was not friendly to us. As you know Haiti was just hit by cyclone Thomas. So the road was terrible. Anyway, that is the mission. And this is His work not ours. So please continue to pray for us as we continue to do the Lord’s work.
About the community I have trained them how to deal with cholera just in case if they are in need. So they are OK. I have prepared all for their needs before I left. So they will be OK.
Ok Fr. Scott, I will update you later about my trip because it was very good experience. Today I am planning to meet with Sr. Mona and to see the damages of the cyclone. I am planning to go to Carcasse this afternoon. I might spend in Carcasse for 1 week. We will see.
Please pray for us in our mission.
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.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )