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Hurricane Matthew hits Jean Rabel, North West Haiti

By Anne Heffernan, Viatores Christi Volunteer (eyewitness)

5th October 2016: I awoke to at 5.30 this morning as hurricane Matthew continued to rage in Jean Rabel, NW Haiti. The wind howled and the rain poured down. We thanked our lucky stars we were fortunate to be living upstairs over the local school in the town. This meant we were unlikely to have rain coming in the doors regardless of how many inches fell. Many were not so lucky; I saw children busy trying to get rid of about 12 inches of water outside the door of their home at about 9.00 am this morning.

This tree (pictured) is only one of the numerous ones that fell within close proximity to our home. This one even uprooted the concrete surrounding it in front of the local priests' home. Sr. Nazareth Ybarra was anxious about her workshop to see how the roof held up over night. It wasn't a pretty sight when she entered this morning.

There were gallons of water that leaked in through a hole in the roof, needing to be swept outside and lots of materials needing to be dried out. Without delay however, the stalwarts of Jean Rabel (who Sr. Rose Kelly and Sr. Nazareth have befriended over the years here in the town) were on the scene helping us to get rid of the water, and make the roof waterproof once more.

Meanwhile at the back of our house, the usual pathway to the classrooms was blocked with fallen trees. On the right is the path on the way to the computer lab.

One of the classrooms was fairly damp with a good pool of water sitting on its tiled floor and Sr. Rose lost no time in setting to sweep it out. The mobile clinic's chauffeur was on hand without delay with a mop and bucket to help with the operation. The rain had come in under the door due to the fact that the building is built on a slope and will need work done to ensure such an occurrence won't happen again. Thank God the new printer and computer, installed only last week, remained intact!

It's amazing that despite the fact that movement is so difficult, the rain and the wind were so strong and heavy and roadways are blocked or turned into mud slides, regular market stall-holders still turned up today to sell their wares in the Jean Rabel Wednesday market.

To me this shows the persistence and tenacity of the Haitian people, particularly the womenfolk who are the majority of market sellers.

It will take more than hurricane Matthew to quench their spirit!