Haiti is dealing with widespread destruction after taking a direct hit from Hurricane Matthew earlier this week. The storm took hundreds of lives when 145 mph winds ripped through the developing nation.
Several people from an organization based out of Cedar Park are on the ground trying to help support those that have been impacted.
Mission of Hope Haiti has been providing food, water, shelter and education in the country since 1998. They helped thousands after a devastating earthquake hit in 2010.
Now they are working to save those who are once again left in a disaster zone, this time from a deadly hurricane that caused significant flooding in many outlying areas.
“Anyone that's worked here knows that Haitians are the most resilient people, some of the strongest spirits of anyone they've ever met,” said Austin Holmes, director of partner development at Mission of Hope Haiti. Holmes is currently on the ground in Haiti helping to coordinate relief efforts.
People in Haiti are going to need that strength in the months to come after Hurricane Matthew killed more than 800 people and ripped through thousands of homes.
“Nobody’s got a roof over their head. 80-90 percent of structures were totally destroyed. So we really need shelter for people,” said Holmes.
Employees with Mission of Hope Haiti traveled to the hardest hit area Wednesday after the hurricane moved north.
“We're finally getting back into the areas that have been hardest hit that we've had no communication from. We're finding out that that’s where the real devastation happened,” said Annette Boorman, Vice President of U.S. Operations at Mission of Hope Haiti.
After making contact with those who were in the hurricane's path, Mission of Hope Haiti workers realized they needed a lot more supplies than originally thought.
“All the food has been destroyed, the buildings have been destroyed, all of the water is contaminated, there are actually people that have been injured,” said Boorman.
Saturday, the organization sent a 50 ton barge carrying 1.5 million meals, fresh water and medical supplies to Haiti’s southern peninsula. They are also looking into air drops to get help to those in hard to reach sections of the nation.
“So the folks that have been there, they have not had food or water or shelter since the hurricane hit and so we're talking thousands and thousands and thousands of people,” Boorman said.
“We've got entire departments of Haiti, these are like entire counties in the state, that everything's taken to the ground, fields totally destroyed, so it's going to affect these regions for the next 3-6 months as far as food sources, water sources,” said Holmes.
Several people in Haiti have been living in temporary shelters since a 7.0 earthquake struck in 2010 destroying hundreds of thousands of homes.
The shelters were designed to last about six months, but thousands have been living in them for the last six years. Many of those structures were torn apart when Hurricane Matthew made landfall Tuesday.
Mission of Hope Haiti has been working to update those temporary shelters and their progress could have saved hundreds of lives during this latest natural disaster.
“Since the earthquake, we've built over 700 homes, concrete, block homes, and they made it through just fine,” said Boorman.
But as Mission of Hope Haiti employees know all too well, even the most resilient people in the world need a little help sometimes.
“I'm encouraged by what we're seeing, but there's a significant need and Haiti needs your thoughts and prayers so please support the country,” Holmes said.
To donate to Mission of Hope Haiti and help support those hardest hit by Hurricane Matthew you can visit mohhaiti.org/relief or text @mohhaiti to 52014.