The powerful hurricane, the fiercest Caribbean storm in nearly a decade, slammed into Haiti last week with 145 mile-per-hour (233 kph) winds and torrential rains that left 1.4 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.
Authorities had to start burying the dead in mass graves in Jeremie because the bodies were starting to decompose, said Kedner Frenel, the most senior central government official in the Grand’Anse region on Haiti’s western peninsula.
Frenel said 522 people were killed in Grand’Anse alone. A tally of deaths reported by mayors from 15 of 18 municipalities in Sud Department on the south side of the peninsula showed 386 people there. In the rest of the country, 92 people were killed, the same tally showed.
Frenel said there was great concern about cholera spreading, and that authorities were focused on getting water, food and medication to the thousands of people living in shelters.
Cholera causes severe diarrhea and can kill within hours if untreated. It is spread through contaminated water and has a short incubation period, which leads to rapid outbreaks.
By Gerald V. Paul
Meanwhile in Toronto, the Caribbean Diaspora is galvanizing support for Haitians at home.
“We are concentrating on collecting cash which is easier to reach our brothers and sisters in Haiti. We are also in the process of setting up a ‘Go Fund Me’ site,” Antoine Derose , President of Pierspective Entraide Humananitaire, a charitable organization, told The Caribbean Camera.
Derose said there is still no access to many parts of Haiti and also, in the absence of government presence, it’s a challenge to accurately document the extent of the damage and lost of lives.
Rev. Father Carlyle Guiseppi, pastor and director of the Caribbean Catholic church in Toronto where several Haitians attend mass, also appealed for help for the people of Haiti.
Referring to aid programs in the past, he said : “A lot of ‘boobol’ happened in terms of the finances, a fiscal injustice but we need to continue to give to Haiti. It’s the faith of the Haitians that is sustaining them at this time, “ said Father Guiseppi.
He said that the church will work with the Caribbean Consular Corps ” and serve the people of Haiti. This is about Caribbean unity and family.”
Audrey Campbell, past President of the Jamaican Canadian Association (JCA) , said “as always, the JCA is vigilant and will do our best to come to the aid of those affected.”