Donations, Help Requested After Haiti Gets Severely Damaged by Hurricane Matthew

People across southwest Haiti were digging through the wreckage of their homes Friday, salvaging what they could from a deadly and devastating encounter with the full force of Hurricane Matthew.

At the same time, President Obama is calling on Americans to help residents of the country that has been severely damaged by a catastrophe for the second time in six years.

"Even the smallest contribution can really make a big difference," President Obama said.

Following an update with officials from FEMA and other agencies regarding the storm, Obama called on people to donate to organizations such as the American Red Cross in an effort to help. A complete list of agencies you can donate to can be found at

The central government's official death toll stands over 300, with authorities doing the on-ground assessment in remote corners of the southwestern peninsula saying it will be significantly higher when the full accounting was complete.

According to some reports, the Hurricane has killed more than 800 people.

Saint-Victor Jeune, an official with the Civil Protection agency working in Beaumont, in the mountains on the outskirts of hard-hit Jeremie, said his team found 82 bodies that had not been recorded by authorities in the capital because of spotty communications. Most appeared to have died from falling debris from the winds that tore through the area at 145 mph on Tuesday.

"We don't have any contact with Port-au-Prince yet and there are places we still haven't reached,'' Jeune said, as he and a team of Civil Protection agents in orange vests combed through the area.

As Haitians mourned their losses, they tried to recover what they could of their meager possessions. Homes throughout the area were piles of rubble, the roofs mangled or stripped away.

Telemaque Dieuseal, 54-year-old farmer, fled his small house to stay with a cousin but returned to find that his TV, motorcycle and radio were nowhere to be found among the wreckage.

"The thieves were out all day after the storm stealing everything they could get,'' Dieuseal said. "It's going to take a long time to get back on my feet.''

With the death toll rising, a South Florida neighborhood is doing what they can to relieve some of their devastation.

At Notre Dame D'Haiti in Miami's Little Haiti neighborhood, donations like bulk food and cash are now being accepted at the church to help.

And Father Reginald Jean-Marie is coordinating these relief efforts on behalf of the Archdiocese of Miami.

"We are not talking about hundreds of people; we are taking about thousands of people," Jean-Marie said. "They are tired, they are broken, they are in need."

At a warehouse in Miami Gardens, volunteers worked for 12 hours Friday collecting donations.

"You're giving back and doing something good for your people of your country," said Wanda Tima.

Workers said they will be collection donations from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday at the warehouse at 3333Northwest 168th Street.

Workers from the International Organization of Migration and other groups were going through impacted area to assess the damage and provide assistance, though their efforts were hampered by damaged roads, rough terrain and other factors.

Devastation is everywhere,'' said Pilus Enor, mayor of Camp Perrin, a town near the port city of Les Cayes on the peninsula's south shore. ``Every house has lost its roof.''

Officials were especially concerned about the department of Grand-Anse on the northern tip of the peninsula, where they believe the death toll and damage is highest. The 283 deaths reported by Pierre did not include Grand-Anse or its surrounding areas.

When Category 4 Hurricane Flora hit Haiti in 1963, it killed as many as 8,000 people.

More bodies began to appear Thursday as waters receded in some places two days after Matthew's 145 mph winds smashed concrete walls, flattened palm trees and tore roofs off homes, forcing thousands of Haitians to flee.

Those killed in Haiti included a woman and her 6-year-old daughter who frantically abandoned their flimsy home and headed to a nearby church to seek shelter as Matthew surged in early Tuesday, said Ernst Ais, mayor of the town of Cavaillon.

On the way to the church, the wind took them,'' Ais said.

Officials said that food and water were urgently needed, noting that crops had been leveled, wells inundated by seawater and some water treatment facilities destroyed.

In Les Cayes, many people searched for clean water as they lugged mattresses and other belongings they were able to salvage.

Nothing is going well,'' said Jardine Laguerre, a teacher. ``The water took what little money we had. We are hungry.''

Officials with the Pan American Health Organization warned about a possible surge in cholera cases because of the widespread flooding caused by Matthew. Haiti's cholera outbreak has killed roughly 10,000 people and sickened more than 800,000 since 2010, when it was introduced into the country's biggest river from a U.N. base where Nepalese peacekeepers were deployed.

Haiti's government has estimated at least 350,000 people need some kind of assistance in what is likely to be the country's worst humanitarian crisis since the devastating earthquake of January 2010.

International aid groups are already appealing for donations for a lengthy recovery effort in Haiti, the hemisphere's least-developed and most aid-dependent nation.

In the coming days, the U.S. military expects to help deliver food and water to hard-hit areas via helicopter.

After passing over Haiti, Matthew hit Cuba's lightly populated eastern tip Tuesday night, damaging hundreds of homes in the easternmost city of Baracoa but there were no reports of deaths. Nearly 380,000 people were evacuated and measures were taken to protect infrastructure.

Matthew advanced up the length of the Bahamas on Wednesday and Thursday, tearing roofs away, toppling trees and causing flooding that trapped some people in their homes. There had been no reports of casualties by late Thursday as the storm headed toward Florida's coast.

Before hitting Haiti, the storm was blamed for four deaths in the Dominican Republic, one in Colombia and one in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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