The effects of Hurricane Matthew on Haiti

Tim Norris Disaster Relief, Projects

If you don’t know who Andy Roemer is you are missing out. How many people do you know that when they finally got to that good point in life, where you can retire comfortably, be living on a beautiful piece of Kentucky soil, with bass fishing in your front yard and deer hunting all around, time for the rocking chair and coffee… they would sell everything and move to the poorest country in the western hemisphere (Haiti) to work harder than you have ever worked? Well, that describes Andy and Debbie Roemer. To be totally honest, Andy is obviously cut from a unique piece of cloth… those who know him best say AMEN! Some might consider him a modern day Peter, yes, the guy from the Bible who is all in and doesn’t hesitate when faced with a daunting challenge.

But who else would you want being the “boots on the ground” in a country like Haiti. Andy and Debbie are the “front line” in much of our efforts in Haiti.

My first real connection to Haiti came in 2010 right after the devastating earthquake in which 200-300,000 people lost their lives. Since then I have read many articles about the history of Haiti and the poverty that is on display during the best of times. In order for a typical American to even begin to have a clue about life in Haiti you would need to do the same… do your research and then make a trip or two to get the full impact. We Americans live in the greatest country ever, and accept our American lifestyles as normal.

Those who have experienced a major natural disaster (Katrina, Ivan, tornado, etc) have some idea of what “normal” life in Haiti is like. To those who have been in that environment, picture what you would have if right after that disaster struck, Hurricane Matthew came along… that’s about where south Haiti is today.

Take a guess at what the above picture is showing….
• My son Corban connecting with the kids from the school Hope Gate supports… CORRECT!
• Several school children fascinated with video on an iPhone… CORRECT!
• A shed that is not fit for your lawnmower… INCORRECT!
• This building is a “commercial” kitchen in Haiti in “good” times. It was actually the school kitchen before we got involved.

This is the “modern, updated” kitchen we built for the school this past year.

We do not have any post-hurricane pictures as of yet. However, just imagine what these two structures would look like after 140+ MPH winds and driving rain over a several hour period. Keep in mind that the average home in south Haiti is not built much different than these two examples of “kitchens”.

So… when I said “The average person in south Haiti didn’t lose very much at all when Matthew came thru!” it is the truth. The counter statement is also true, “The average person in south Haiti lost almost EVERYTHING”. They didn’t have a secure place to run to, they won’t have neighboring communities sending in massive supplies, they will just pick up where they left off… fighting for their life every single day.

Hope Gate is ramping up to help!

1. At Hope Gate, we first want to make sure Andy and Debbie are operating from a position of strength. We want Andy and Debbie to be able to focus their attention and efforts on the people of south Haiti, not their situation. So, we will engage with them and their compound to make sure they are capable of primarily thinking about those around them.

2. Hope Gate will participate in the “scouting” trip that will leave in the next couple of days to deliver “first response” type of items to the area. Andy Topp and Andrew Roemer are spearheading that trip. We will contribute $3,000 to the trip for supplies and fuel as well as send some funds so that Andy Roemer may hire some men from the community to do community work.

3. Hope Gate is also going to supplement the communication capabilities for the Roemers. It is expensive to keep the communications coming from Haiti to the US. However, without up to date information, we would just be guessing on how to respond.

4. Hope Gate is actively involved with communicating with several other NGO’s who are active in South Haiti. In the very near future we will be announcing critical partnerships that have been established to maximize our relief efforts . Partnerships that involve transportation of needed supplies. Partnerships that involve providing food and clean water.

5. Hope Gate is also participating in strategic planning for the future. The real disaster in south Haiti is about 2 months away. All of the crops; bananas, avocados, corn, beans, are presently laying on the ground or they are in standing water. The farmers are scurrying this very day to gather as much as possible to save. However, without the refrigeration and storage capabilities we have in America, these crops will soon waste. It will be at this point that these farmers and their families will simply be out of food.

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, feed just one.”
– Mother Teresa, founder of The Missionaries of Charity