News reports from Haiti tell a sad story for the Southern part of the island and particularly, the city of Gonaives. First Fay, then Gustav, and now Hanna have pounded the country with rains and high winds, and Ike and Josephine are already on their way to doing it again. The rivers are overflowing their banks, and entire sections of hills are being washed away in mudslides that can obliterate houses. The death toll is now at 100 people, but that is sure to be a lower estimate because of the difficulty of accessing the flooded areas. Furthermore, that figure only accounts for deaths directly caused by flooding; the starvation due to lost crops and the illness due to dirty water and overcrowding in what little shelter remains will claim many more lives. The first time I worked at the clinic in Cazale, I saw the results of flooding that had occurred 4 months earlier. The road had been fully repaired, but most of the houses still showed extensive damage. The victims got special treatment at the clinic - food and clothes in addition to the usual free medication - and I was told it would be easy to recognize them because the inhabitants of the village that had suffered the most had a red hue to their skin. This was true, but I picked them out more by their depressed affect and their emaciated faces. All the focus seems to be put on the storms' immediate effects, but the long term ramifications can be even worse.
I lived through 2 hurricanes at HFC in August 2007 and August 2006. During the first one, I was convinced that our building was going to get blown over, or at the very least, that we would lose the tin roof that covers our courtyard. Neither happened. We have a very sturdy building and our position halfway up the hill protects us from flooding. Our biggest concern is keeping the windows shuttered because the rain gets blown sideways into the building and can soak a bed in less than 3 minutes. (I speak from experience!) I spoke with Miltha a few days ago and everything was fine at the orphanage. I worry more about the Ravine where I will be working with Christian Light Ministries in a few weeks - their homes are only a foot or two from the banks of a river - but Sherrie has told me that things are OK in that area as well.
Please be praying for the parts of Haiti that have been hard hit. Pray for roads to open up quickly so that aid can be delivered to the victims. Thanks!