By Nicole Robicheau/IFRC
Elmita Nodeis sits on the ground in the courtyard of Philippe Guerrier school in the town of Les Cayes. The school has been turned into an evacuation centre since Hurricane Matthew hit, and she’s been sleeping there with eight members of her family ever since.
The 51-year-old has a few buckets in front of her, and she’s busy scrubbing clothes.
“My home has been destroyed, and I haven’t eaten since yesterday, so I started washing people’s clothes that live around here for a bit of money,” said Elmita.
She was in her home when the hurricane hit.
“I was sleeping and I thought I was dreaming that someone was telling me, ‘come quick, come quick’. And then I woke up and my house was being destroyed by the storm, so I ran out,” Elmita said.
Twenty-two-year-old Yvette Smith and her family are sheltering in a classroom at the centre with 19 other families.
“Our house was destroyed and we lost all of our things. Then the Red Cross came to get us and brought us here,” said Yvette.
There are no mattresses at the school, so everyone, including Yvette’s 83-year-old grandmother, sleep on the concrete floor. Her grandmother has been using a cane ever since she was injured in the earthquake in 2010.
Forty-one-year-old Pauline Divert wasn’t in her home when the hurricane hit thanks to Red Cross volunteers who ushered her and her family to the evacuation centre.
“I went back to see my house and I was devastated when I saw it destroyed,” said Pauline. “Even my husband’s fishing boat is gone.”
Yesterday Red Cross volunteers worked with the World Food Program to register all 200 families living in the centre. Today they are back to distribute much needed food. Each family receives rice, beans and cooking oil, enough for just over a month. This is the first food distribution at the evacuation centre.
In the coming days and weeks, the Red Cross will continue to deliver food, water, relief items and shelter kits to affected families and support them as they recover.
“Everyone’s a victim in the south department. Everyone’s been affected by Matthew,” says Yvette Fenelon, Haitian Red Cross president, south west department.