We headed out to school today for the first day since hurricane Matthew struck Jean Rabel. The devastation it caused was evident all along the route, with huge trees just outside the town having fallen during the gale force winds. Some have been taken away but others lie all along the side of the road for the moment. In the fields the crops have been flattened, particularly banana trees and sugar-cane, the main-stays of the area, which are sturdy plants but they were unable to withstand hurricane Matthew’s destruction.
There is fear in the area that food supplies will run short in the coming weeks and so a local recently established Jean Rabel group, has decided to use the little funds it has to buy seeds for the people to sow to ensure food for the coming months, in case another catastrophe like hurricane Matthew befalls the region.
They intend to buy corn and beans and get them planted as soon as possible as this is the growing season for such plants and the group wishes to make the most of what it has.
Another worry now that the initial damage has been assessed and much clearing of land and roadways has taken place is the fear of contagious diseases as a result of lack of clean water for people to drink.
If this cannot be adequately addressed there is a real threat of cholera, typhoid and other water-borne diseases spreading rapidly through communities as local river water is carrying mud, dirt, debris and all sorts of rubbish along its path; it is unsuitable for drinking. This of course, has the potential to become a major disaster unless the issue is dealt with immediately.
Driving was difficult this morning as our driver made his way through rocks and debris from the side of the mountains that have become displaced following the hurricane, and in places there was just enough room for the car to pass through – the roads were not good in the first place and you would want your wits about you driving them at the best of times – but right now only very experienced drivers with local knowledge are safe to drive.
We followed the walking crowd heading for the river in Bord de Mer, to take our usual river crossing to the other side of the bank. But Maxim was too worried to take the chance of driving through the river bed, which was at least knee-high on those who bravely crossed it in their bare feet to collect water to haul home.
For the past few weeks this riverbed barely had enough water for people to wash their clothes but now since hurricane Matthew the landscape has changed and crossing has become too much of a problem to risk damage to the car, which is so badly needed here.
After due consideration Maxim reversed the car and we had another day unable to get to school as a result of hurricane Matthew. Just then it started to rain again, the clouds had darkened across the river and no one was sure what else the weather might bring, so we headed home. I could have gotten out and crossed the river barefoot but I would not have been able to carry the four computers I also had with me without them getting wet or worse falling in the river! (My job for today was to teach computer skills to the children and teachers in a school in Acadien).
Perhaps tomorrow circumstances will allow me get to work. For now, all I can do is go with the flow and hope for the best for tomorrow, just like the Haitian people do each and every day.