Hurricane Matthew Strikes Haiti

Update: October 19th, 2016 – The UN has now estimated that at least 1.4 million Haitians have been seriously impacted by Hurricane Matthew with 175,000 left homeless and more than 500 dead. The buildOn Haiti Team has now reached most of our schools and partner communities in our impact areas of the Grand’Anse, Nippes and Sud. These sixty communities were some of the hardest hit by Hurricane Matthew with nearly all homes sustaining damage and approximately 80% of farms destroyed.

Fortunately, buildOn schools fared better with only a handful sustaining serious structural damage to their roofs. buildOn schools are often the most structurally sound buildings in the economically impoverished villages where we work, and most serve as de facto community centers. Thousands of people took shelter in buildOn schools during the storm, and today there are nearly 8,000 community members still living in buildOn schools as they struggle to survive and start rebuilding.

While structural damage to buildOn schools was minimal, nearly a third of these schools lost portions of their roofs. buildOn constructs schools in Haiti using corrugated tin sheeting for roofing. This tin material improves structural safety and reduces injury and loss of life in the event of earthquakes like the one that rocked Haiti in 2010; however, high winds like those that came with Matthew can rip the metal sheets away from the building. Most of our rebuilding efforts in the coming months will focus on repairing and replacing school roofs, though we do not yet have an estimate of the cost. As the rebuilding process begins in the coming months, buildOn will also be partnering with additional communities in southwest Haiti that are currently without schools.

Update: October 6th, 2016 – We have now confirmed 100% of the buildOn Haiti staff is safe. Some of the areas we serve were among the hardest hit, and flooded roads, destroyed bridges, and downed communication continue to keep us from reaching most partner communities. We will share updates as info becomes available. Please keep the people of Haiti in your thoughts and prayers as relief and recovery move forward.

October 5th, 2016 – Yesterday, Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti, leaving at least 11 people dead and countless others homeless or displaced in what is being called the largest humanitarian disaster since the 2010 earthquake. The Category 4 storm made landfall near the city of Les Cayes, where buildOn’s Haiti office is located, leaving a path of devastation throughout the region where our work is focused.

At this time, we have confirmed the safety of some of our Haitian team as we work tirelessly to make contact with the rest of our staff. The vast damage to Haiti’s already fragile communications infrastructure has made this task exceedingly difficult, but we will not rest until we have ensured the safety of each member of our buildOn staff.

No out-of-country school building groups were serving in Haiti at the time; however, due to the location and magnitude of the storm, we expect that many of our partner communities were impacted. Our staff will begin assessing any potential damage to our schools and communities in the coming weeks. We expect this to be a long and difficult process due to widespread reports of flooded and washed-out roads and bridges, but we are steadfastly committed to helping Haiti rebuild.

Since 2001, buildOn has constructed 96 schools in Haiti, where more than 26,000 children, parents and grandparents learn each day. Additionally, buildOn brings groups of volunteers from across the globe to Haiti to work side-by-side with community members to break ground on these schools through the Trek program.

We are monitoring the situation in Haiti closely and will provide more information about buildOn’s efforts in the region as it becomes available. Our thoughts are with all those who have suffered loss in the midst of this enormous tragedy.

Posted October 19, 2016 in News by buildOn

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Update: October 19th, 2016 – The UN has now estimated that at least 1.4 million Haitians have been seriously...

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