Haiti (MNN) — Hurricane Matthew has trudged on from the shores of Haiti. Now, it’s all about assessing the damage.
Mission Aviation Fellowship’s Haiti program manager David Carwell says they had an airplane out investigating the impact along Haiti’s southern coast yesterday morning.
“It’s particularly difficult to get information because the cell towers are not in operation and the internet services are very spotty, if working at all. So we’ve had a difficult time working with our partners to get accurate information.”
The northern area of Haiti wasn’t hit as hard, where the capital and most of the population live. But the population that Hurricane Matthew did strike on the southern coast was the most vulnerable.
“This is a different kind of crisis. It’s not happening in the capital, as the earthquake was. It’s happening in the rural areas, and that makes it a different situation in a couple of ways. In one respect, it’s more serious because homes are not made of concrete. Many of them are grass or mud or tin roofs and…we understand many homes have been wiped out,” says Carwell.
“The other difference is it’s not happening where the central population is, two to three million people here in the capital. It’s happening out in rural areas that are difficult to reach, and they’re even more difficult now because bridges are out and roads are impassable. So we’re going to use aircraft to go to those airstrips that are in the southern peninsula and take as many supplies and personnel as we can, first responders.”
MAF has already been carrying out evacuation flights. After the damage assessment is finished, MAF will begin the process of working with ministry partners to fly in aid.
“I think initially we’re talking more in the relief phase of getting food out there and shelter for people who have lost their homes. I think the initial wave will be more of a relief effort. But I can imagine, as things progress here, then we’ll move into more of a development phase, and I could well imagine that our partners will be involved in rebuilding homes.”
Carwell and his family have been in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, with MAF for 21 years out of the 30 that MAF has ministered in the country. There are five MAF families total serving in Haiti, mostly pilots and aircraft mechanics. MAF also has 15 Haitian staff members.
“We had a shelter in place at the time when the hurricane went through. Our children were out of school, businesses were closed. We were at our home, and our homes are built out of concrete and they were able to withstand wind and rains that we had. Actually, we were about 100 miles from the eye of the storm and we it really didn’t have a huge impact here in Port-au-Prince.”
MAF has three aircraft in the country and typically uses them to assist short-term mission teams. But when disasters like Hurricane Matthew strike, MAF is ready to answer the call to be the hands and feet of Christ where needed.
“We’re here for such a time as this,” Carwell explains. “As we read in the Old Testament, I’m just reminded of that Scripture (from the book of Esther). We’ve been here for a long time and we’re in kind of a routine, day-to-day schedule. But then when these kinds of disasters [are] here, we’re in place and ready to go and we’re looking forward to see how God is going to use us and how He’s going to work through this tragedy; how He’s going to strengthen His Church through this event.”
As MAF responds to the devastation, you can support them through their Disaster Response Fund here.
And, of course, Carwell asks that you remember Haiti in prayer…
“We pray for those who have suffered and those who are without homes…. We just ask you to pray that God would use the Church in Haiti as they reach out and express the love of Christ to their neighbors.”