On September 25th, international weather services began tracking a tropical wave that formed off the African coast. Without knowing, this surge went on to form an unimaginably devastating storm that impacted much of the Caribbean and the United States’ eastern coast. On October 9th, Matthew finally floated off the coast as a Post-Tropical storm, leaving many areas, especially Haiti, in total devastation.
As Reverend Gonzalez solemnly asked the community to send our prayers to those affected by Hurricane Matthew last week, many of our Episcopal families were in the storm’s direct path and were greatly impacted as well. When disasters like this occur, numbers and statistics often dehumanize the individual lives lost during the tragedy. With a death toll of around 1,046 people, Hurricane Matthew has been an absolutely terrifying incident for those who live on the south eastern coast and in the Caribbean. I conducted one-on-one interviews with some EHS students who live in affected areas:
Bradley Kelley, who lives in Coral Gables, Florida, said “The thought of my house flooding was a serious concern for me, because with only about four feet of tidal increase, my house would be submerged in water. It stressed me out at school greatly, because I received numerous phone calls and texts about how some of our boats were being relocated.”
Taylor Redd, a junior from Charleston, shared that she was worried for her dad, who had to withstand the storm in their house that was boarded up. Thankfully, the house got through fine with only minor damage.
James Dixon, a sophomore from Outer Banks, North Carolina, had a more dire situation: “The road that runs parallel to our beach crumbled into the ocean. We got almost 12 inches of water, and stores had water up to their windows.” While watching the TV reports at school, James said he was worried for his parents’ safety especially when they lost power.
Probably the most significant of all from the hurricane was the devastation in Haiti, which summed up to around 1,000 casualties. Not only so, after the hurricane, Haiti also suffered a Cholera outbreak, a deadly disease that harbors in untreated water. Episcopal’s partner school in Haiti, St. Thomas Episcopal School, was also affected by Matthew. Fortunately, our partner school withstood the hurricane, but it was not the same for the rest of the country. The city of Jeremie was the hardest hit, with more than 99% of the infrastructure damaged.
In the wake of this natural disaster, we are incredibly grateful that the extended Episcopal family is safe and well out of harm’s way. In the coming weeks, it is important to join together as a community and send our prayers and support to those who are in dire need of assistance after this catastrophe.