A Blumenort resident is in Haiti doing mission work in a medical clinic and says Hurricane Matthew started as a tropical storm warning and grew into a disaster.
Katrina Reimer says her family has worked and been involved in Haiti for quite a few years so it was always her dream to follow in those footsteps. Reimer notes she arrived in the small mountain village of Cazale in July, after having spent part of the summer of 2014 and 2015 in Haiti, and is working at a medical clinic through Real Hope for Haiti helping in the office, helping missionaries, lending a hand when emergencies arrive, teaching missionary children, and taking on others tasks to create a more stress-free environment.
Reimer says there are many tropical storm warnings so the initial news didn't phase anyone, however, she adds when it was upgraded to a category 4 hurricane everyone became more serious about preparing for the worst.
"Then we prepped as much as we could on Sunday. So, we boarded up some of our houses, we stocked up as much as we could with food and water, and we brought some of our patients from our Cholera Treatment Centre, which is higher up the mountain, down because we knew it would be safer in our main compound."
Reimer says signs of the storm could be seen as early as 8 a.m. on Tuesday with high winds adding around noon the wind seemed to die down a bit and it then rained all day and night. She notes their biggest concern during the storm was flooding because there is a river outside the clinic's gate and it has caused flooding issues in 2007 and 2008. Reimer says they were thankful and lucky to have not sustained much damage in Cazale adding the roads are quite mucky but still passable.
"However, there were a lot of other places in Haiti that were really, really suffering from [the storm]. In the southern peninsula of Haiti we have heard a lot of news of flooding and big buildings that were totally torn apart. There are some places we have not even got any contact from yet, so the south felt the storm much harder than we did."
She notes the storm hit the southern portion of Haiti first, which is why they were hit the hardest with roofs torn off houses, buildings demolished and the death toll currently over 100 people. Reimer adds as the storm moved inland it dissipated from the mountainous terrain.
Reimer says she has heard relief efforts are in place and there is a large American plane that came with supplies. However, she notes, any passenger flights were cancelled this past week.
"Haiti is already such a vulnerable place," she adds. "It's so hard to hear from people who are suffering yet again. There was an earthquake only a couple years ago and a couple years before that there was some major floods. The Haitians are literally some of the strongest people I know in that regard as they have gone through so much and continue to live in poverty."
Additionally, Reimer explains Sunday, October 9 was the Haiti Presidential elections, however, due to the storm, it was postponed. She says this is a big deal because there were many riots over the elections.
"The hurricane coming through, the country just seems to be in a bit of rough shape."
Reimer says she wants to thank everyone back home for their thoughts and prayers.