In Haiti hundreds of thousands of people affected by Hurricane Matthew are still waiting for aid.
The death toll is in the hundreds and is expected to rise. The Haitian president calls the situation in the southwest a catastrophe.
At the Lycee Philip Garrier, a high school in the hard-hit town of Les Cayes that’s serving as a shelter, there’s growing frustration among people who lost everything to the storm.
Hundreds of people took shelter in the school, sleeping on classroom floors. Most say they now have nowhere else to go.
“This is a school. And we know that we cannot stay here forever. But so far no one has come here to talk to us, to tell us what they plan to do with us,” says Jacqueline Emile, who’s been at the school since Sunday.
“We know that it’s nonsense to think by next week, we should stay here. There are the students who head back to school! So we want anyone with the means to help us to come and talk to us and help us have a relief from the situation that we’re exposed to now.”
Laundry is strung on all the balconies of the two-story school building. Kids play soccer on the basketball court. The parking area near the entrance smells strongly of urine.
Across town, a crowd has gathered around a truck that people have heard might be loaded with food aid. Young muscled men shove the crowd away from the vehicle.
People are trying to get on with their lives in this town of some 80,000 residents. Amid the felled power lines and destroyed buildings, street vendors have gone back to selling mangoes and fried plantains. Stores have reopened.
Despite this attempt to get life back to normal, aid agencies say the needs are huge. Hundreds of thousands of people had their homes partially or totally destroyed. Crops have been wiped out.
At the main public hospital in Les Cayes, Dr. Lance Plyler from the Christian aid group Samaritan’s Purse is bandaging a 3-year-old boy’s broken ankle. Plyler had just stopped by the hospital. There was no one to attend to the boy so the doctor ended up bandaging the boy’s leg in the parking lot between two cars.
“This kid’s got a broken and infected leg,” he says. “We’re just putting a Band-Aid on a big problem, but we’re hoping to arrest the infection enough that he’ll be OK.”
The 156-bed hospital is struggling to reopen. On Friday it could take only 10 patients. Most of the staff who made it to work were busy trying to clear debris from the compound and mop mud out of the wards.
Gilbert Lorcy is one of the relatively lucky ones: He didn’t completely lose his roof. His tin roof and the wooden rafters did blow off in the Category 4 hurricane but with the help of a few folks, he was able to pick it back up and prop it up on what’s left of his foundation — four low stone walls.
During the day Lorcy and his family of five camp out under the roof. At night they go to sleep in a shelter. His neighbor next door is doing the same thing.
“As of now we have nothing to cope with the situation,” says Lorcy. “So we spend a day in our yard. But every night we go in the shelter. Later on we’ll have to find a way to address a proper living.”
Lorcy says he doesn’t have a plan. He has no money to rebuild. He hopes the government or aid groups will provide building materials so he can reconstruct his house.
A neighbor worries that if aid does arrive, it won’t go to people like Lorcy.
Haitians have far too much experience as aid recipients. These men worry that the relief will go to people who are better connected, better off or stronger than they are.