Hurricane Matthew’s Damage To Haiti Felt In Gainesville

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The death toll in Haiti has risen above 1,000 after Hurricane Matthew ravaged the island early in its path.

While families and communities there try to regroup and rebuild, the effects of storm are also being felt in Gainesville.

“My wife’s family lives where the hurricane hit itself, in [the Haitian city of] Les Cayes,” University of Florida professor Richard Fethiere said. “They actually survived by putting the kids in the closet while the wind was blowing at 150 miles an hour because the houses are built a little bit different than here. They’re not build for air conditioning; they are built for natural air movement.”

For now, the main priority for people there is finding food, water and shelter.

Meanwhile, flooding remains a major concern, especially with the possibility of a cholera outbreak. As a precaution, residents are being advised to boil their water.

“They are also drying off the charcoal that they use to boil the water because the charcoal got wet,” Fethiere said. “Those are things they have to face right now.”

In times of disaster, members of Haitian communities come together as one, Fethiere said.

“They usually turn towards God, pray, ask for forgiveness, cry their dead, bury their dead and see how we move on from there,” he said.

The United States and France have both pledged to send help to Haiti. UNICEF and the American Red Cross also have special relief programs in place for disasters like this.

WUFT News reporter Madison Belfour contributed to this article.

About Jordan McCool

Jordan is a reporter for WUFT News who may be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news @wuft.org

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