Haitian towns and cities hit by Hurricane Matthew in October continue to suffer and the authors of this article say that “The story of Matthew’s actual disaster will take decades to unfold.” Besides the obvious structural damage caused by Matthew, many important crops and trees were destroyed and will take much time to recover. In the meantime, people will be hungry and the economy will be depressed. Matthew also revealed (or perhaps reminded) of severe deficiencies in building materials and practices that made many structures so vulnerable to the winds and torrential rain. While Haitians are doing their best to recover on their own, they still need help.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.
A Close-Up Look at Southwestern Haiti, Post-Hurricane Matthew
Andrew Kennedy and Tracy Kijewski-Correa, WunderBlog
December 16, 2o16
Today’s guest post is by Dr. Andrew Kennedy and Dr. Tracy Kijewski-Correa, associate professors in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering & Earth Sciences at the University of Notre Dame. From November 17 to 25, a reconnaissance team led by Kijewski-Correa visited the most-affected regions and evaluated Matthew’s effects on buildings, infrastructure, and the people of Haiti. Below, Dr. Kennedy and Dr. Kijewski-Correa give us a preliminary account of their trip, which took them to areas seen by relatively few outside observers since the hurricane. We’ll be back on Monday with a new post. –Jeff Masters and Bob Henson
On October 4, 2016, Hurricane Matthew made landfall near the town of Les Anglais, Haiti, as a strong Category 4 storm with estimated sustained winds of 145 mph (65 m/s) (Fig. 1). The landfall region in the western Tiburon Peninsula, more than 150 miles west of the capital of Port-au-Prince, sustained extreme damage to buildings and vegetation. The Haitian government reported 546 fatalities from Matthew, while other sources reported at least 1600 unconfirmed deaths. Rainfall in the peninsula was extreme, estimated by NASA to be 10-20 inches over the course of the storm.
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with a per-capita GDP of US$846 in 2014. Haiti has many poor people, a few very wealthy families, and a small, weak middle class. Even in the best of times, life is difficult here for most citizens, and these are not the best of times. Except for a few paved national roads that link large cities, many roads are unpaved and often impassable, intercepted by land/rock slides and rivers, and eroded by flash flooding. Four-wheel drive vehicles are necessary in many areas.
Haiti has a largely agricultural economy, historically focused on producing coffee and sugarcane but more recently on exporting oils used in perfumes, bananas, and cocoa. A large portion of the population, particularly in rural areas, survives on subsistence farming, so any interruption to agriculture has immediate impacts on nutrition. Overall, Haiti has little internal resilience to natural disasters and relies on outside aid not just for recovery, but for many of the basic services its citizens require.
Click HERE for the full text.