Hurricane Matthew: one year on

5 October 2017

A year ago, Haiti was struck on its southwestern coast by one of the strongest and most devastating hurricanes in its history. Matthew, a category 4 hurricane, left approximately 1,000 people dead and resulted in material loss evaluated at about $2 billion.

Compassion-supported children and families were severely affected as they live in some of the poorest areas of the country. About 13,000 children and their families were impacted as well as 99 church partners.

‚ÄúI have never seen such a big and devastating hurricane during my whole life. It is just heartbreaking when looking at those consequences. That community turned out to be just like a desert,‚ÄĚ says Pastor Edgar Alcime.

Pastor Edgar is the senior pastor of the local Baptist Church who partners with Compassion.¬†‚ÄúI was at home with a few other people that night and the hurricane became stronger and stronger," he remembers. "Before it was too late, we moved to the church sanctuary as it is more resilient. While we were there, we could hear the roof of the school building taken away, trees were unrooted or broken and metal sheets were flown through the air. Everybody was afraid and in that moment I realised we were in a very bad and dangerous situation.‚ÄĚ

"Afterwards, without the ministry of Compassion the situation would have been just chaotic for many families. I contacted many organisations but Compassion was the only one that stood by the church to help the needy people."

One of those who benefitted from Compassion's support was Laudamene from the community if Moinson. 60 years old, Laudamene lives with three of her children and three of her grandchildren. To make a living, she tends a small farm and sells secondhand shoes in the market.

Hurricane Matthew one year on

It took Laudamene five years to build her family home. It took just hours for Hurricane Matthew to destroy it completely.  

"During the hurricane, we were all inside the house. The winds became so strong and we thought the house would collapse. We had a four-year-old child with us. We stayed inside all through the night and left early the next morning for a nearby location that was safer. The roof of the house was blown away just minutes after we left."

‚ÄúI felt so broken when I saw the house damaged like that. I prayed to God for help and He answered our cries. Compassion came and brought us food, medicine, materials and money to repair our homes. The hurricane struck us in a time where we had no money available at home but Compassion was there.‚ÄĚ

Laudamene was not alone in receiving vital help from Compassion and our church partners. Thanks to your donations and support, 20,950 emergency food and hygiene kits were given to families, as well as 400,470 purification tablets to protect from waterborne diseases such as typhoid. 2,029 homes have already been repaired in a sustainable way whilst repair work is ongoing for a further 1,697. 6,000 families received grants to replace lost belongings. 

The Compassion Haiti medical team conducted annual medical check-ups ahead of time using a mobile clinic in order to diagnose and provide treatment to more than 12,000 children affected by the hurricane. Mosquito nets were also distributed to 3,650 children and families. Nearly 10,000 children and families have been given post-trauma support and counselling.

Thank you so much to all those who gave to our Hurricane Matthew Appeal and prayed faithfully for children and families in urgent need. 

‚ÄúI feel happy and proud to return home together with my family members. I feel safer under this roof as it is stronger than before. I am so grateful for what Compassion has done for me. I cannot find enough words to express my gratefulness. I might still live outside today ‚Ķ but Compassion was there,‚Ä̬†reflects Laudamene.


12 January 2017

Children, families, project workers, church leaders and our colleagues at Compassion Haiti want to send a huge thank you to everyone who everyone who prayed and donated in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.

We were overwhelmed by your generosity and willingness to support and pray for children in Haiti.

Thanks to you, Compassion Haiti and our church partners have been able to:

  • Repair 99 of our church partner buildings, allowing all children to benefit from the Compassion programme once again.
  • Distribute more than 400,000 water purification tablets.
  • Repair 1,181 homes which were damaged and construct 1,240 new homes for families whose houses were completely destroyed.
  • Repair 22 schools run by partner churches. 23 further schools are currently being rebuilt.
  • Help 5,244 children replace personal belongings they lost.
  • Assist 5,459 parents with replacing vital household items.

On the seven year anniversary of the devastating 2010 quake, please join us in continuing to pray for stability for Haiti. Compassion Country Director, Guilbaud Saint-Cyr, has shared 6 ways we can continue to pray for his country. 


Keep praying for Haiti


11 November 2016

A huge thank you to everyone who has prayed for Haiti and donated to our emergency appeal. 

Our Haiti Country Director, Guilbaud Saint-Cyr says, ‚ÄúI thank God for them (sponsors) and I thank them for the love they are expressing for the sponsored children.‚ÄĚ

Because of you:

    • We can provide food kits for families.
    • We can provide temporary shelter to those who lost their homes.
    • We can repair church buildings so Compassion projects can start again.

After an intensive search by local staff in Haiti, all missing children have been accounted for and are safe. If you haven't been contacted by us directly, you can be assured that your sponsored child in Haiti hasn't been affected by Hurricane Matthew. 

Please continue to pray for wisdom, provision and protection throughout the rehabilitation process.


04 November 2016

One month on, Haiti continues to battle the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew. According to the World Food Programme, more than 800,000 people urgently need food. Cholera cases continue to spike with an estimated 3,400 recorded since the storm struck. 

Our staff and church partners are beginning the second phase of relief, continuing to provide shelter and helping families rebuild and repair their homes. We're also beginning to repair church buildings in the hope of being able to resume the Compassion project activities which provide such vital support to children.

We now know that three children in our programme, 34 caregivers and six siblings have lost their lives as a result of Hurricane Matthew.

Please continue to join with us and pray: 

  • For the relief and repair efforts taking place across the country.¬†
  • For all those who are mourning loved ones. The estimated death toll sits at more than 1,000.
  • For protection against cholera. Pray for a reduction in new cases of the deadly disease.

"We have all our trees gone, our fields are wiped out, our buildings and our houses are broken and destroyed. But I pray that people around the world will keep on remembering us in Haiti. Please, keep sending your help to improve our life, because we are living in a very poor condition." 16-year-old Angeline, Les Ceyes


Give to our Haiti Appeal


21 October 2016

Please continue to pray for those who are in mourning following the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew. The death toll now sits at approximately 900, a figure set to rise due to the spread of cholera. 

In their latest update, Compassion Haiti confirms that three children in our programme, 33 caregivers and six siblings have died as a result of Hurricane Matthew. 

Our Haitian staff and church partners are working tirelessly to distribute food, water and hygiene kits. Some of our staff members have gone above and beyond, personally arranging the distribution of extra clothing and supplies in the places where the need is overwhelming. 

Aid Hurricane Matthew in Haiti

Aid in Haiti

Emergency food after Hurricane Matthew

Despite the challenges, Compassion projects are exploring ways to resume activities so they can assist children with psychological recovery and enable them to continue their schooling. Our church partners who were unaffected by the hurricane are also arranging collections of school items and resources. 


17 October 2016

Nearly a fortnight on, the extent of the damage caused by Hurricane Matthew continues to unfold. There are increasing fears about the surge in cholera cases - 200 have been recorded since Matthew struck. Children are especially vulnerable to cholera, which causes severe dehydration and can be fatal in a matter of hours if left untreated. In response to the growing crisis, the World Health Organisation is sending a million doses of the cholera vaccine.

The latest report from Compassion Haiti confirms that three children in our programme, 13 caregivers and five siblings have sadly lost their lives as a result of Hurricane Matthew. 81 of our church-based projects remain closed due to significant storm damage.

Please continue to pray for all children and families who have lost loved ones, homes and livelihoods. Give to our disaster appeal to enable our church partners to distribute supplies to children and families in urgent need.


12 October 2016

Haiti's interim president, Jocelerme Privert, has warned that the nation faces a risk of famine following the damage caused by Hurricane Matthew. Powerful winds and flooding have destroyed farms, food reserves and much of this year's harvest. 

Mr Privert reports that the loss has been "amazing" and food, water and medicine is needed urgently. 

Hurricane Matthew destruction

Hurricane Matthew destroyed crops

Our church partners are continuing to distribute food, water and hygiene kits to children and their families. Many of our partners are using their facilities as temporary shelters for those who have been left homeless.

Compassion Haiti Country Director, Guilbaud Saint-Cyr. has provided a brief update about our response on the ground. "As a ministry working alongside the church and reaching out to the poorest, we took proactive action consisting of mobilising our disaster committees in all the clusters in the field to send alerts, to monitor the situation, to educate and relocate families who were at major risk.

Despite all that, due to the scale of the hurricane, we have accounted for several children and caregivers who have died and more than 15,000 beneficiaries and their families affected. They see their homes flooded, roofs blown off, losses of personal belongings and livestock. We also have a significant number of church partners damaged that are now temporarily closed. Distribution of supplies is continuing throughout the week for children and their families."

Hurricane Haiti destruction

10 october 2016

The latest reports show that Hurricane Matthew has destroyed tens of thousands of homes, leaving more than 60,000 people staying in temporary shelters. The death toll has risen to 900 with officials confirming that 90 percent of some areas have been destroyed.

Crops have been devastated, putting increasing pressure on food resources, and at least 13 people have died of cholera as a result of widespread flooding. 

The Compassion Haiti office has deployed an emergency team to the worst affected areas in southern Haiti. They are delivering vital supplies including food, water and hygiene kits. Many of our church partners are using their buildings to provide shelter to those who have lost their homes. 

We now have confirmation that 2,619 Compassion-assisted children are known to have been affected by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti. 73 of our church partners are temporarily closed due to damage. It's with heavy hearts that Compassion Haiti share that one child in our programme has lost their life.

Please continue to pray for the 350,000 people the UN reports to be in urgent need of assistance. Pray for children in Haiti whose lives have been devastated by the hurricane.


7 October 2016

As Florida in the US prepares for Hurricane Matthew to make landfall, a more detailed picture is emerging of the destruction left in Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Colombia.

In Haiti, the death toll is now estimated to be more than 800. 50 people were reported killed in the town of Roche-a-Bateau alone. Rescue workers in Haiti are still struggling to reach affected parts of Haiti as the bridge connecting to the south was washed away by flood waters.

We still have very limited information about the number of Compassion-assisted children and families who have been impacted. Compassion Colombia confirms that 1,000 sponsored children have been impacted by the hurricane. The majority have lost homes and household items. Our colleagues in the Compassion Haiti office sent through the following prayer request yesterday: 

"Hurricane Matthew has devastated our country, particularly the south region. It has made thousands of victims and many people become homeless. The government has already intervened in some areas to bring support to concerned people, yet some other affected places are not called on and they are in need. Please pray that God brings them comfort in such a tragedy."

Please join us in continuing to pray for all those affected by Hurricane Matthew. Pray particularly for the children in these three nations who have lost homes and loved ones.  


6 October 2016

Hurricane Matthew has now claimed the lives of at least 16 people, including ten in Haiti. Thousands have been displaced from their homes and the UN is reporting that 350,000 Haitians are in need of assistance. More than four million children are thought to have been exposed to the impact of Hurricane Matthew. 

Officials are trying to restore access to Haiti’s southern peninsula following the bridge collapse, but finding an alternative route is difficult. Access to the hardest hit areas is therefore proving extremely challenging. Images starting to come through from Les Cayes show people walking in shoulder high water. 

Sunday's presidential and legislative elections have now been postponed for the second time this year while the government assesses the extent of the damage caused by the hurricane. 

Compassion Haiti staff and church partners are continuing to provide immediate support to children and families. With communication lines down, we still have limited information. We do have confirmation that, to date, 35 of our church partners have reported significant damage, and 70 Compassion-assisted children and families have lost homes or livelihoods. The Compassion Haiti office estimates that the total number affected is likely to be at least 50 churches and 100 children. 

Please keep praying for all those in Haiti who have lost their homes and livelihoods. 

Give to our Haiti Disaster Fund


9.00am, 5 October 2016

Reports are starting to come in detailing the extent of the damage caused by Hurricane Matthew. 

Areas of Haiti including Cayes, Camp-Perrin and Thiotte are experiencing significant flooding. The situation in the port town of Les Cayes has been described as "catastrophic". 

Southern Haiti has effectively been cut off after the collapse of the bridge which links them to the capital, Port-au-Prince. At this stage, there is limited information available but two people are known to have lost their lives in Haiti, whilst four have been killed by mudslides in neighbouring Dominican Republic. The death toll is expected to rise as the extent of the damage becomes clearer.

In the latest update from our Haiti Country Director, Guildbaud Saint-Cyr, he says,¬†‚ÄúThank you for your thoughtfulness. The country office staff members are okay, but we have had so many damages at the centres. Some centres in the south have had their facilities damaged with roofs swept away by the wind. Many children and families have had their homes damaged or destroyed, livestock and crops destroyed by wind and flooding. The hurricane also caused landslides. One bridge collapsed, making it impossible to drive to the south to provide assistance. Thanks to God, no deaths have been reported from our centres.‚ÄĚ

We don't currently have any further details about the impact to Compassion projects or sponsored children. Our church projects which have not been impacted are being used to shelter families affected by the hurricane. We've launched a disaster appeal to enable our church partners to provide temporary shelter, medical aid, water and emergency food to children and families. 

Please continue to pray for Haiti. Ask for God's provision for all those who have been affected. 


16.00pm, 4 October 2016

Hurricane Matthew made landfall at the South-Western tip of Haiti at approximately 11:00 GMT. The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) has explained that Haiti is "getting everything a major hurricane can throw at them".

Initial reports from the southern coast describe communities under water and buildings stripped of roofs. We will provide further updates as soon as the information is available. 

Please continue to pray for the people of Haiti.


9,00am, 4 October 2016

Hurricane Matthew continues to move north at 5.7 mph (9.17 kph), with maximum winds of 140 mph (225.3 kph) and gusts up to 165 mph (265.5 kph). The eye of the storm is predicted to make landfall around daybreak Tuesday 4 October - around 11-12 am GMT. This will probably happen off the western tip of the Tiburon Peninsula, which includes most of Haiti's southern coast.

Hurricane Matthew

Our colleagues in Colombia have sent through reports of flooding, triggered as Matthew travelled across the Caribbean coast of Colombia. Forecasters continue to predict that the storm will bring life-threatening rain, wind and storm surges to parts of Haiti.

Compassion Haiti Country Director, Guilbaud Saint-Cyr, explains how his team has been preparing. 

"Because we work with the poorest within our reach, they are among the most vulnerable in our country; living in tents, near ravines, etc., and in times of hurricanes like this, they lack everything. This includes shelter, food, water, dry clothes and hygiene items.

We have in place disaster committees, not just at Compassion’s field office, but also at the different clusters where we have church partners. Those churches are monitoring the situation; identifying and educating the parents and children who are at major risk. They are also sending us alerts.

Our (disaster) contingency plan has three phases: 1) education and relocation before the hurricane comes, 2) short-term relief right after the hurricane and 3) evaluation and appropriate response. Right now we are in phase one.

Please join us in continuing to pray for Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba, Colombia and the Dominican Republic.

Ask that God would minimise the threats of Hurricane Matthew, reducing the power of the storm as it makes landfall. Pray for protection for the most vulnerable children and families.


More ways to pray for Haiti


3 October  2016

Hurricane Matthew, one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes in recent years, is moving across the Caribbean towards Haiti, Jamaica and Cuba.

Haiti is expected to be the most seriously affected. According to the National Weather Service, 40 inches of rain is expected in southern Haiti. There are great concerns that Matthew may trigger storm surges, floods and mudslides. 

Much of Haiti's infrastructure is still weak after the 2010 earthquake which killed more than 200,000 people. Thousands are still living in tents and temporary shelters. Haitian officials report that 1,300 emergency shelters have been built and Interim President, Jocelerme Privert, has advised people to be ready to evacuate.* 

Please join us in prayer for Haiti, Jamaica and Cuba:

  • Pray for God's protection over these three countries. Ask in faith that Hurricane Matthew will weaken before it makes landfall. Matthew is expected to hit the¬†south-western tip of Haiti late this evening.¬†
  • Lift up the most vulnerable children and families in Haiti. Pray that the evacuation processes currently taking place would be effective in saving lives.¬†
  • Pray for Compassion Haiti and our 293 church partners. Ask God to give them wisdom as they mobilise resources and prepare to respond to this crisis. Pray for God to watch over the 102,600 Haitian children registered in our programme. Compassion Haiti Country Director, Guildbaud Saint-Cyr, sends his heartfelt appreciation for your prayers and support: "Thanks to all our dear friends, sponsors and donors around the world who are praying for the country. All our staff and church partners are being mobilised to bring assistance to our children and families in case needed. We are monitoring the situation."


*BBC News and CNN


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