Deadly rains flood northern Haiti, worsen food crisis

By November 12, 2012

Haiti (MNN) — The rainy season is underway in Haiti, but it's an unusual one.

In the wake of Hurricanes Isaac and Sandy, anything unusual can be catastrophic. The impoverished country is heavily deforested, so three days of deluge in the North have led to flash floods and landslides. A Haitian government official says up to 10 people were killed.

Roseline DeHart with
For Haiti With Love says the news of Cap Haitien often gets overshadowed by the troubles of Port-au-Prince. However, the devastation is no less severe. DeHart said very few people were getting any sleep. "They're afraid they're going to get washed away, or they're afraid that another earthquake will happen; the last time they had an earthquake, it rained a lot, like this."

It's rainy season, and the survivors just weathered two hurricanes. What makes this rain different? "It doesn't rain like that–that hard–for days. Houses are being washed away. One house fell down with seven people inside."

For Haiti With Love's headquarters is on a mountainside. DeHart explains, "Up in the mountain, it's better right now. There's no flooding up there because the water all goes down. People can't go anywhere. All the roads are flooded, so they just stay out in the streets." Their warehouses don't have room for people, but the ministry is getting ready for a major food distribution.

Here, too, there are complications. With the flooding, people can't light fires to cook the food. That often leads to a spike in burns and other injuries seen by For Haiti With Love's burn clinic. Obtaining an adequate supply of burn cream is a challenge. There were 995 patients in August, but in September, that number grew to 1,035.

There are growing concerns about waterborne diseases, like cholera. At least 30 water supply systems were affected by Hurricane Sandy, increasing sanitation concerns. Government reports indicate storm damages may exceed 600 million dollars' worth of damage to infrastructure such as roads and bridges, and nearly 150 schools.

The future is frightening. Even after the water dries up, Hurricane Sandy destroyed 70% of the crops along the southern coast. The UN's World Food Program (WFP) believes that up to two million Haitians are facing hunger. Rising food prices fueled multiple protests (manifestations) in Port-au-Prince prior to Hurricane Sandy. At this point, the government is asking for international help, resulting in an appeal for 20 million dollars in funding to help those affected.

For Haiti With Love is getting another food container ready to ship. DeHart says they'll need help with funds to send it, and they're in a hurry because of the anticipated need.

Is there any good news? Actually, says DeHart, "In a situation like this, Haiti all comes together to pray and worship, no matter what they are." People are more open to the Gospel, and those who are followers of Christ share their hope with anyone who will listen. A similar phenomenon occurred shortly after the big earthquake in 2010. In a night without electricity, choruses of prayer and praise could be heard coming from the darkened tent cities.

What can you do? You can help with funding. It's always in short supply when it comes to shipping the supplies to Haiti. Or you can pray. Pray that the hope of Jesus Christ continues to comfort in Haiti. Pray for boldness for the Christian workers meeting the physical needs there, and ask God to provide the resources, energy, and strength to respond.

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