After several days, the destructive aftermath of Hurricane Matthew is clearer. Haitians say the heart can't feel what the eyes don't see - so look at these photos from Al Jazeera and the Miami Herald as well as aerial footage by the United Nations. There is concern that the flooding could cause an upsurge in cholera cases. Given the scale of destruction, Haiti's elections have been postponed and a new date has not been determined. The humanitarian needs are real - but so too is the need to better plan for and respond to future hurricanes. Elections are rescheduled for November 20th.
The transition from emergency relief to reconstruction is happening, albeit slowly. It won’t be easy and there will be setbacks, particularly given that the rainy season is upon us along with the risks it brings of flooding, mudslides, infectious diseases, and infrastructure damage. Engineers have completed emergency mitigation measures at six of the most vulnerable settlements to protect the most vulnerable, but much remains to be done.
Immediately after the earthquake, information came out of Haiti in a trickle. It is now more like a flood. As of February 3, the Government of Haiti (GOH) increased its death toll estimate to over 200,000. 300,000 are reported to have been injured, 250,000 homes destroyed, and 30,000 businesses disrupted. Assessments carried out by MINUSTAH now indicate a 15-20% population increase in the South, Grand Anse, Nippes, and Central Plateau departments due to displacement from Port-au-Prince. Below is a summary of where things stand in terms of emergency response and recovery.
The suffering caused by the earthquake is difficult to fully comprehend. Haitian authorities report that at least 72,000 bodies have been recovered. Some predict the final death toll will be as high as 150,000 in Port au Prince alone. Up to 1.5 million people may be homeless. ICRC reports approximately 55,000 people in 40 informal temporary camps throughout the city. As you read this, many people are going back to the countryside. While most of the damage took place in the southern portion of Haiti, the whole country will be affected. The Government has declared a period of national mourning until February 17. We all grieve for what Haiti has lost.