The death toll in Haiti following the passage of Tropical Storm Isaac has risen to twenty-nine. Isaac dumped torrential rains on Haiti and flattened tent camps housing survivors of the devastating 2010 earthquake. Haiti’s Civil Protection Office reported late Tuesday that the bulk of the deaths happened in the southeastern and western departments of the country. Some of the victims were electrocuted and others died after objects fell on them.
Our partners with our Companion Diocese of Haiti ministries, of Family Health Ministries, have reported that Isaac brought minimal damage on the medical clinics where we serve in Blanchard and in Leogane. The high minds and heavy rains caused some flooding near the river in Leogane, the guesthouse where our missionaries stay, remained in tact. The new trees and bushes that have been recently planted are still alive!
In the Blanchard community of Port-au-Prince, the Family Health Medical Clinic and school are both open for business. When our mission teams visit Haiti, we use this clinic to provided medical care and the housing for our Vacation Bible School programs. We understand that all of the staff members and families in the community, although weary from water and wind damage, have survived the first impact of this storm.
We remain very concerned about these people who are now even more vulnerable to rain, mudslides and disease. The Episcopal News Service reported on August 23 that Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) said that its staff have contacted the Diocese of Haiti, and its relief arm, Centre Diocésain de Développement Intégré et de Secours, to offer assistance. Current plans include the assembly of locally sourced emergency kits for 2,500 families, containing gallon-sized bottled water, biscuits, soap, toilet paper and blankets.
We have heard from Sister Claudette of the school and orphanage in Fondwa where people of the Diocese of Lexington work and visit, that their community sustained significant damage and trauma. Jamalyn Williamson, a friend of our Companion Diocese Ministries and employee of FHM, reported that the heavy rains collapsed the Sister’s Chapel, the community garden was destroyed and all of the livestock and other animals died in the storm. All of the 490+ students of St. Antoine’s School and the 50+children of the orphanage have survived. The garden and the animals are a significant source of food for this community. We expect to be working to help replace these losses. Watch for more news about those efforts as we continue to assess our places of ministry in Haiti.
Please remember our Companion Diocese of Haiti in your prayers and watch for opportunies to be supportive. Mark your calendars for our Companion Diocese of Haiti Fundraiser in the evening of Saturday, November 17, in the “Castle” on Versailles Road. Details will be released very soon.
The Rev. Dr. Jan Cottrell
Co-Chair, Companion Diocese of Haiti