Ailish O’Reilly, our Programmes Manager in Haiti, shares the latest updates from the emergency response on the ground in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.
SUNDAY | DAY FOURTEEN
A non event. We got up early, intending to go hiking, but are all secretly relieved that someone had the good sense to say no, let’s just relax for the day!
Body, bones and mind are tired.
It is a day of cups of tea and floating around doing jobs around the house, like getting two weeks worth of washing done. We are stunned by the news from Paris – the tragic death of Munster Rugby head coach Anthony Foley – and our thoughts extend to the Foley family: ar dheis Dé go raibh anam.
The day is peppered with calls and follow-ups on emergency aid, and then we devote some time in mid-afternoon to planning the start of the week. It is impossible to switch off: there is just far too much to be done. We head out for dinner: I get through the meal, make my excuses, and am home and in my pyjamas before 9pm.
MONDAY | DAY FIFTEEN
My first thought about Monday is that it is now two weeks since Hurricane Matthew.
I’m still measuring time by the storm, and that is not a good thing necessarily. We are up around 6am, getting packed up to head south. We call in by the office in Port au Prince and jam-pack the car with food aid, masks, some office supplies, and bin bags.
It is Dessalines Day – a national holiday – so we have the place to ourselves, although we hit some traffic on our way out of downtown. After that, it is plain sailing all the way to the farm in Cavaillon.
There is significant difference in the appearance of the country side the further south you travel. The changing terrain is enough of a guide to let us know we are entering Cavaillon and the Cayes area.
At the farm, we decide to leave all the food there and load up instead with bags of water. That is when we discover we have a flat tyre, so three people work on that while we sort the supplies. We meet more of the team from the farm and can see where clean up work has begun, even since Saturday.
It is on to Les Cayes and the rain. We are desperately seeking mosquito spray but cannot get it anywhere: they had none in Port au Prince this morning either.
We load the boat quickly: reports of food aid being taken and hassle at the port means we waste no time in getting ourselves on to the boat and out toÎle à Vache. Water mustn’t be much of a concern though, as we have no problems.
At Madame Bernard, we transfer the water to our depot. I visit the mayor and arrange a meeting for 9am with Haven. We need to talk about the distribution and he has met with all his CPC team today, so we should have more feedback on how it has gone so far. It is time to start talking to him about medium to long-term aid. Our resources are limited so we need to put them to the best use that we can.
I am what we call here gripay – to us Irish, a head cold, but it isn’t exactly like one. I take an antihistimane and head home for an early evening.
The house has been cleaned since the hurricane but not put back together. I decide it can no longer be put off: it takes a few hours, but it is worthwhile. My kitchen lock is broken so I close it with a rock pushed up against it. It reminds me of a story my father tells of going to a hurling match when the passenger door on the car wouldn’t lock, so he parked it snugly up to a tree so no-one could get in.
A big and busy day ahead tomorrow. We want to move back to our Chache Lavi office if all is ready. We need to make kits and we have tarpaulins, food and water to distribute. We have had a shower of rain this evening; hopefully, it will hold off which means the roads will be passable for deliveries. We have aid shipments for Wednesday to co-ordinate, and we need to get some local projects going.
No cholera so far, thank God.
Bon nwi (Good night) tout moun (every person) from Île à Vache.
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