I am going to try and capture some of what happened over the past few days as Hurricane Matthew made landfall in Haiti. The hurricane has really dominated our thoughts, the news, and our lives over the past few days and I want to give you an idea of what it was like here. First of all, we are ok! I have not had time to inspect the damage yet, but I do know that our house seems to be fine and everyone who stayed with us is great. We had about 35 people at our house before, during, and after the storm because I knew that the house was strong enough to take it. In fact, we invited each of our employees and their families (not sure where they would have slept had they all accepted) because we were bracing for a potentially catastrophic event. You have probably heard different reports in the news, but I am going to share with you what happened specifically for us. I understand that there are many other compelling and sensational stories because of how and where the storm hit and many of them are also true. Where we are in Gressier, we were protected from the front of the storm by mountains and we only really saw a lot of wind for a couple of hours on the back end of Hurricane Matthew. We saw rain (and we still are seeing rain) for about 24 hours now and it is still coming (I wrote this Tuesday night at 9:00) and that is probably the most dangerous aspect of these types of storms for Haiti.
As I write this, I can only say that the people who stayed at my house are ok because that was truly my main concern. Of course I am worried about the nation and our friends, but my primary objective was keeping our kids safe. In fact, as of now (again, Tuesday night at about 9) I have only left the house for about 20 minutes when I tried to get down to check on the kids’ house. I could not because a tree had fallen in the middle of the road and when I got out to walk I found standing water about 2 feet deep that I did not want to walk through. I truly have no idea what the rest of the country, city, or even our small area looks like because my focus and my attention was on keeping our kids safe and I can proudly report that they are all doing just fine. In fact, I think, in the younger kids’ minds, they just had a 2 day slumber party complete with constant movies, junk food, and video games. But isn’t that how it is supposed to be for a 6 year old? They should not have to be scared of something like this because they should know someone else is taking care of the hard stuff!
With that said, tomorrow, when our house moms come back, I will go out and assess the damage a little. I will check out the kids’ house, I will follow-up with our employees, and I will make sure our older kids have homes to go back to. I was just talking to Chinaider when he told me that a friend of his came by with the news that many houses in the area where he lives have been destroyed. This area includes Angena, Milouse, Chinaider, Nythsonne, Rose and Michelda, and a couple of our employees. Kin Kin also came by earlier and told me that 2 of the houses where he lives had their tin roofs taken off by wind. It truly was a devastating storm, but we were so blessed where we are for a lot of different reasons. I know that many of you were praying for me and for our kids and I can promise you those prayers were felt. In fact, we never truly felt unsafe even in the midst of some pretty crazy wind and rain.
On the flip side of this, I cannot imagine what so many people in Haiti must have gone through over the past 2 days. Families in Jacmel, Jeremie, and other locations where the hurrican hit the hardest must have been through a terribly uncertain and frightening time. Families in Port Au Prince and the surrounding areas where flooding must have been intense and where many live in conditions that are not hurricane ready are probably still reeling and trying to figure out what to do next. After seeing the wind that we saw here from the safe confines of our cement home with a cement roof, I cannot imagine what it was like for people who were weathering the storm in worse conditions – Especially children. Our internet has been down so I have not seen any reports, but I am sure there was some very serious things that happened over the past 48 hours. Please continue to be in prayer for this nation and for the upcoming relief that I am sure will be needed.
I am going to try and write about everything that happened here over the past couple of days. From having visitors, to the wind and rain, to the moments of fear and uncertainty when we felt the brunt of Hurricane Matthew I will try and help you to understand what it felt like to be here. I know I will leave out some details and I will probably struggle to remember some of what happened because I was trying to make sure our children were safe (not to mention the fact that I had 35 people in my house). I will stick to the truth as far as I know it, but I do know that many people had it worse than I did. Not only were we in a good, strong home but we also did not take the worst of the storm. GOD really protected us! As I tell the story, if there are any details I leave out or if you have any questions about a certain topic, please let me know and I will fill you in. I do not want to downplay the conditions here, they were intense and there were a few scary moments, but all in all we did pretty well considering a category 4 hurricane made landfall just a few miles away!