JEREMIE, Haiti – A week after Hurricane Matthew blasted the southwestern Haitian city of Jeremie, getting there by road is still quite an ordeal, complicating the task of distributing humanitarian aid.
There is nothing but desolation along the road from Les Cayes to Jeremie, and – although hundreds of photos and videos of the almost apocalyptic state of affairs there have been released – seeing it for oneself is almost overwhelming.
There are streets blocked with tons of rubble. There is not a single spot that is free of debris – both the ruins of homes and vegetation – but the residents of Jeremie, the capital of Grand’Anse province, are soldiering on, keeping the streets abuzz, above all in the local shops.
Helicopters roar overhead transporting so far insufficient humanitarian aid, their occupants inspecting the ruined terrain.
The United Nations on Monday requested $119.9 million to assist 750,000 people affected in southwestern Haiti by the storm.
More than 19 percent of Haiti’s population – 2.1 million people – have been affected by the hurricane, and more than 12 percent – 1.4 million – need urgent assistance in different provinces, above all in the southern part of the country and in Grand’Anse.
Although transportation is very problematic for all-terrain vehicles along the local streets, motorcycles move easily around town.
Everywhere there are men making repairs of all kinds.
In addition to the assorted obstacles along the roads and streets, in many spots people have erected barricades of stones and tree trunks as roadblocks where they demand tolls from drivers who want to get through.
It’s hard to believe, but there are still people inhabiting the rural wasteland left by the hurricane, and on the hillsides there are assorted houses, shacks and shanties, many of them almost completely destroyed by the storm, leaving their owners with nothing.
According to preliminary figures released Monday by Civil Protection, Hurricane Matthew killed 372 people, injured 246 and displaced 175,000 to 224 shelters. Four people are said to be missing.
However, aid organizations and local authorities said on Friday that more than 800 people were killed by the hurricane.