We wanted to share some news with each of you as we know many of you have been praying for us and wondering how we are doing. Communications is still very, very difficult and it is challenging to send texts or use the phone and we do not have internet connectivity yet. As you know, Hurricane Matthew directly hit the southern peninsula of Haiti as a hurricane 4. The eye of the storm was about 30 miles west of us and we saw considerable damage in our community.
We are happy to report that our students and workers are all accounted for. Many of them weathered the storm in homes that lost their metal roofs. We can only begin to imagine how frightening that must have been. Because of the loss of roofs and the duration of the rain, people’s belongings were drenched with dirty water – some of which are unsalvageable. It is difficult to see our coworkers and friends suffering through the initial disaster and its aftermath.
Centre Lumiere itself had some damaged buildings, yet some remained in comparatively good shape. We have much to be thankful for. The boxes of products that were prepared for shipping to the US remained dry and undamaged! We believe that the majority of our supplies and fabrics are salvageable. Our solar panels survived and we have been able to charge cell phones for our ladies and pump clean drinking water which is a huge blessing.
The roofs on the classrooms and the boutique sustained some damage. The roof on the office building and the latrines had major damage, and the roof on the storage depot was completely lost. While we have much to be thankful for, many of the sewing machines and treadle tables in the storage depot were damaged. In the main sewing room, several sewing tables and cutting tables suffered water damage and will need to be replaced. We are not up and running yet, but it is quite possible that we will find that our other equipment is damaged as well.
The hurricane hit on Monday night, October 3rd and it continued to rain for several days. Initially, roads were impassable as a result of the fallen trees and power lines. Thanks to fellow missionaries with heavy construction equipment, on Thursday we were able to reach Centre Lumiere from our home. From Thursday to Saturday, we were able to clear a path through the fallen trees on our campus, temporarily repair the roof on the office, and vacuum up approximately 85 gallons of storm water. On Monday, October 10, employees and students who were able joined us at Centre Lumiere to begin the cleaning and restoration process. With everyone helping, we started clearing many of the downed trees, cleaning the buildings, caring for the sewing machines, and drying out some fabric that had gotten wet. It’s a big job and cleanup will continue throughout the week.
We invite you to look at the album of phones of the damage and cleanup. (We will include more pictures in the future as we are able to send larger files.)
For those of you who are wondering how you can help, we have a few ideas. As yo