Hurricane Overwhelms Haiti and the Dominican Republic

Hurricane Overwhelms Haiti and the Dominican Republic

By: Sean Sheridan, contributing writer   |   Posted: October 19, 2004

A woman carries her young son while her daughter walks alongside through floodwaters in their neighborhood in San Pedro de Macorí³¬ Dominican Republic. The floods are a result of torrential rain from Hurricane Jeanne.

Hurricane Jeanne passed over the north of Haiti this past week and left over 1,500 people dead and another 1,200 missing. The storm also killed 25 people in the Dominican Republic.

Haiti Country Gets the Brunt of Jeanne

In Gonaives, Haiti's third largest city with approximately 250,000 residents, extreme flooding and mudslides have damaged or destroyed virtually all the roads and homes and left nearly 300,000 people in the city and surrounding areas without food, water or power. Gonaives, located in a northwestern province, is isolated from the rest of Haiti.

Although there have been no reports of fatalities of Compassion-assisted children in Haiti, at least eight Compassion projects have been directly affected. If your child was significantly affected by the storm, Compassion will contact you directly.

Delegations Sent to Assess Damage

Compassion Haiti sent two delegations from the country office to visit Gonaives and surrounding areas. The team will make efforts to visit the eight affected projects. As soon as the delegations return from the area with more specific information, Compassion will update its crises reports.

Ephraim Lindor, Compassion Haiti Communications Specialist, said the entire first floor of Compassion's Gonaives Child Development Center (HA-371) is underwater and all project files are damaged. "Many children from the area who are in the Compassion program are taking refuge in one of the school buildings that has two floors," Lindor said.

Drainage System Blamed for Devastation

Lindor also said the situation is so desperate that the Gonaives chief of police was forced to release prisoners from a temporary prison to save their lives as water filled their cells.

Because Gonaives is heavily deforested, has no drainage system and is below sea level, some parts of the city are completely underwater. Human corpses and animal carcasses are being gathered at makeshift morgues. Concerns about epidemic disease are rising.

Fallen trees and flooding have left many areas without food, water or power. Damage assessments are difficult because many areas are still not accessible.

Dominican Republic Infrastructure Hit Hard

In the Dominican Republic, dozens of families of sponsored children still have flooded houses. And many of their homes are also missing roofs. No reports of fatalities of Compassion-assisted children have been received from the island nation.

Water remains stagnant, even days after the storm. Some children are unable to attend school or the Compassion projects due to persistent flooding. Compassion is providing food rations and mosquito nets for those families affected.

Compassion's Response

In response to the flooding, Compassion is assessing the damage to its projects in Haiti and is planning to provide assistance through Haiti Crisis Fund.

Please continue to pray for Compassion-assisted children, families and project staff affected by this disaster. For up-to-the-minute information about the storm's aftermath in regard to Compassion projects and children, please visit our Crisis Update web page.