We will know more later, but as I type this blog it looks like we will escape the worst of Hurricane Irma in Gressier. If the track holds, we will probably get some rain and some wind, but you just never really know. I think if our kids were a couple of years older than they are now (Sophie will be 2 in November and Elijah is 7 months) it would not have been that difficult of a decision to keep them here in Haiti with Irma coming on Thursday. Unfortunately, they are that age and we have been struggling with whether or not Jess and the kids should go back to America and wait out the storm or stay here in Haiti with me (if that sounds really familiar, click here to read about last year’s story when Hurricane Matthew came through Haiti and Jess and the kids went to Jacksonville just to have it turn and head straight for them there as well). In the end, all of the flights were booked anyway, so the decision was out of our hands and we are weathering the storm in Haiti, all 4 of us. Please continue to pray that Irma stays north and then for peace and comfort for our family and for our kids. Haiti does not need another major storm, so please pray for the people and the nation of Haiti.
With that said, this Hurricane is going to do a lot of damage. In comparison to the United States, the people on the islands that are in the path of Irma have less money, less places to hide, less infrastructure, and people will lose everything. When Hurricane Matthew came through southern Haiti, at least 1,000 people died. Can you imagine that? In a small area of a small country (Haiti is approximately the same size as Deleware) where very few of the 10,000,000 inhabitants of Haiti reside…over 1,000 people died. Not only that, but many of those who survived lost everything including their homes, their jobs, their gardens, and anything else you can think of. When Irma churns through some of these islands, the same types of things will happen. There will be flooding, mud slides, contamination, etc. and then there will be no insurance companies coming in to assess damages and help people get back on their feet. There will not be the huge influx of donations and volunteers that there was in Houston, there will be some, but it will pale in comparison.
In addition to all of that, when we hear the cost of a natural disaster in the states, we hear huge dollar amounts. For instance, a simple google search tells me that Hurricane Harvey will cost about $80 billion, Katrina cost about $45 billion, and Hurricane Andrew cost about $25 billion. These estimates are numbers that many of us cannot even comprehend and take things into account like “economic impact” and “loss of home buyers.” Much of the damage caused by these natural disasters are done to infrastructure, to homes, and to vehicles and all of these things are repairable or replaceable. The truth is that very few people in America, when a disaster hits, lose everything and the complete opposite is true for many of the poorer island nations like Haiti. When a hurricane hits it causes disease, uninsured houses are destroyed, people who grow just enough food in their garden to keep them and their families alive lose their livelihood, and it can take years and years to rebuild. Haiti is still rebuilding from the 2010 earthquake and last year’s Hurricane Matthew.
All of that to say, please pray for the people in the path of this storm. Pray for our family as we wait to see where Irma will end up with 2 babies and 19 other kids. Specifically pray that the storm stays north of Haiti. Pray for Florida and other people we know in other areas where Irma may make landfall next. At the same time, if you know of good and reputable organizations helping the disaster relief…Give. Don’t just give to any organization (and really research larger organizations like the Clinton Foundation and the Red Cross in regards to international aid) but be responsible and do what you can to help those that are struggling (click here to read a blog about giving to disaster relief). Most of all, like I mentioned before, pray! We will continue to give updates from here and we will continue to ask for prayer as Irma inches its way toward Haiti.