Via WhatsApp, part of a report from the Global Empowerment Mission emergency response team:
Thursday October 13, 2016
1. An urgent message is posted on the Haiti Resilience System. The message is from Father David Fontaine in L'Asile. Father David requests urgent aid for three surrounding parishes and the town consisting of 35,000 people. This town is located at the top of a mountain range with three rivers that had overflowed and made access impossible for nine days.
2. By 11:00 am our first truck was fully loaded with supplies. We followed the driver with our team in an unmarked car. After a good ten hour drive through dirt roads and crossing deep rivers with our truck we arrived at approximately 11:00 pm. We had unloaded the supplies by midnight and used the local church as central command for the region.
3. In order to be efficient on time we sent our truck back to Port-Au-Prince for an all night drive. This would ensure that the truck could be filled again for another town's mission the following day. GEM team spent the night at St. Josephs church.
4. By first light, the team was assessing the damage of the various towns. By 10:30 am the community and our team attended Mass and prayed before distribution. 11:00 am Father David organized the distribution with groups of 80 at a time. This was the first aid delivered to this region since Hurricane Matthew.
This video link documents the story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nB16esdbSFM
Friday October 14, 2016
1. A logistics coordinator, Jason Hersh, a participant in the Haiti Resilience System suggested we deliver aid to another mountain city called Beaumont with a population of 30,000. There is a missionary, Dr. Anke Brugmann, who runs the orphanage Pwoje men Kontre who would be capable of receiving and delivering aid to the entire town.
2. GEM Board Member Dr. Jay Parker from NYU flew in from New York to assist in these missions. Dr. Parker was on the ground in January 2010 for the earthquake. Dr. Parker was part of our first response team along with Miami Beach Fire and Rescue during days 5 to 9 after the earthquake.
3. GEM had already sent our truck to Grande Anse. With that valuable information, we already had a truck on route and headed to that region. It took close to 18 hours to arrive in Beaumont.
4. GEM's sister charity and donor, The Paradise Fund, co-founded by Kent Anderson, arrived with a Cherokee Six aircraft, piloted by Tom Vykruta and Kent. This allowed our team to save time and avoid the 18-hour drive (due to conditions). Instead we flew out early on an important reconnaissance trip.
5. The Paradise Fund plane was able to fly extremely low, sometimes at a 250 ft altitude to photograph the hardest hit, and mostly inaccessible villages. We also flew over many mountain villages realizing that there was complete structural and ecological destruction in an area of approximately 1000 sq miles.
6. The scale of the destruction is indescribable. It is by far the largest and most devastating ecological disaster of recent time. Early estimates state that upwards of 80 percent of the trees in this once beautiful, verdant region have been destroyed.
7. After a 2.5 hour reconnaissance flight, we landed in Jeremie. GEM utilized its resources from the October 7th aid mission and again sourced assistance and transport from within the Grande Anse region.
8. We headed off to Beaumont to meet our truck and ensure an orderly and effective delivery of the aid. The drive from Jeremie took approximately 2.5 hours. By noon we arrived in Beaumont, visited the damaged orphanage, unloaded the truck with the assistance of the Haitian National police and Dr. Brugmann. We were able to greet the children who were housed in a shelter due to the orphanage being uninhabitable.
9. We immediately sent our truck back to Port au Prince in order for it to be reloaded for the following days mission.
10. On the way back we assessed the damage in small villages such as Roseaux. At last light and in the rain we flew back to PAP landing safely.
Saturday October 15, 2016
1. Mission to bring aid to Father Louis Merosne in Anse a Veau located at the tip of the main coastal road from Port au Prince. This commune has a population of 60,000 people. Many homes in this area are destroyed.
2. Our aid truck departs early but conditions on the roads are catastrophic and the truck suffers two flat tires en route. We arrive hours ahead of the truck.
3. Along the way, we encountered destroyed roads and ravaged coastal villages. 12 days after Hurricane Matthew, towns like Petit Rivière de Nippes are still flooded. We arrive at dusk to meet Father Louis in front of a stunning Cathedral, St. Anne's. The parishioners also greet us and prayers are said.
4. Anse a Veau turns out to be one of the most beautiful towns we have visited. The Gem team meets with Father Louis and he explains to us how his brother, Emmanuel Descollines from the orphanage of Kay Mari also needs immediate assistance in a mountain village called Ravine d'Argent where 90% of homes have been damaged or completely destroyed. We further learn that the town of Madian has no clean water for its population of 375 people.
5. GEM commits to delivering a shipment of supplies to Ravine d'Argent while en route to meet Father David from L'Asile to whom we will deliver 1250 sheets of perforated tin roofing needed for his parish. We further commit to a delivery of 7,500 gallons of water to Madian.
6. At 10 pm our truck finally arrives and the team has supplies unloaded. GEM sets off for Port au Prince and after a three hour drive, arrives safely in Port au Prince just before 2 am.