Haiti (MNN) — The death toll is climbing as Haiti tropical storm Hanna pours more rain on that Caribbean nation. The disaster is affecting Haitians as well as those trying to help them.
Mission Aviation Fellowship serves Haiti with vital aviation, radio communications and distance education services to enable and maximize the work of Christian missions, Haitian church leaders, and non-government organizations (NGOs) ministering in Haiti.
MAF's Will White speaking from Haiti says, "We've already been drenched with Hurricane Gustav, and the land's already very wet. When Hanna hit, it just dumped more water, and in many areas it caused a lot of flooding."
According to White, MAF was able to conduct survey flights in the low-lying areas. He says Gonaives was especially hard hit. "There are about 110,000 people living there, and that town is completely flooded–from knee deep to 10 feet of water. A lot of people have moved to the top of their houses. The town is completely cut off by water."
White says this year's flooding is worse than the flooding Gonaives experienced in 2004.
The MAF program has also been affected by this week's flooding. "[Our] Gonaives airstrip is under about eight feet of water. Our other airstrips around the country report that they are fine — just a bit muddy, but they haven't been flooded."
The torrential rains have also affected the day-to-day MAF operations. "We've basically been shut down from our normal operations for a couple of days now, " says White. "We were able to get a special permit to do the survey flights. [Thursday was] the first day authorities are actually letting us file flight plans to get to our other air strips."
White says missionaries have been stuck. He says, "Our main problem is in the Gonaives area, where even the missionaries who minister there are stuck — they're on top of their houses also."
The difficulties aren't over. "More problems are expected in 7-10 days when we start seeing waterborne illnesses. The biggest threat is to infants and the elderly."
White is asking you to pray for the victims as well as for those trying to help. "We're flying a lot of non-Christian relief personnel from organizations like the Red Cross and government officials. We slap a headset on them so we can talk while we're flying them out and witness to them about Christ. We might not get that opportunity in other ways."
Aviation gasoline (avgas) continues to be an issue. While the supplies are good in Haiti, it costs about $6 a gallon. At 18 gallons an hour, costs add up quickly. Funding is needed to help MAF in this emergency situation.