95.3 / 88.5 FM Grand Rapids and 95.3 FM Muskegon
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

U.S. Military, U.N., Other Relief Agencies Seek To Help Haiti After Hurricane Matthew


Aid is finally starting to flow into parts of Haiti that were battered by Hurricane Matthew. The U.S. military, along with relief agencies, the U.N. and the Haitian government, are all trying to get assistance to hundreds of thousands of people whose houses were damaged or destroyed by the powerful Category 4 storm. NPR's Jason Beaubien is in Les Cayes on the south coast of Haiti near where the hurricane powered ashore Tuesday morning. He joins us now. Hi, Jason. Good morning.

JASON BEAUBIEN, BYLINE: Hey, good morning.

MARTIN: It's been nearly a week since Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti. Where does the aid effort stand? I mean, are agencies getting the assistance to the people who really need it at this point?

BEAUBIEN: Yeah, this aid effort is still really in its infancy. I mean, the challenges are still huge. There are still parts of the hard-hit areas that are completely inaccessible by road. That said, aid is finally starting to get in here. Some of it is starting to get in. Yesterday, we saw a World Vision group. They were passing out tarps and blankets and water cans at a school in Miragoane.

Hundreds of people were packed into the central schoolyard, and many of them didn't even know what they were getting. People are so desperate. And there was this one woman there, Jaesala Octav, and she was a single mother, six kids. She said she lost her roof in the storm and just everything, all of her worldly goods, they got drenched with rain.

JAESALA OCTAV: (Through interpreter) And that's why we believe we need, like, house for the children to stay, food so the children can eat. So that's our main demand right now.

BEAUBIEN: And this woman was incredibly frustrated. You know, it has been a week. And this is the type of desperation that we're starting to see really all over the place here.

MARTIN: Jason, there was all this criticism about how aid was getting into Haiti after the earthquake in 2010. Is there an attempt to do things differently this time?

BEAUBIEN: Very much so. There's a lot of talk about making sure that the aid that is coming in here is really targeted, that it's exactly what people need. I was talking yesterday to the country director for Americares. They do medical supplies. He was saying that they're doing assessments exactly of this clinic. What do they need? Do they need antibiotics? Do they need analgesics? And that's the only thing they are going to then send down to this area. And so there really is an attempt to do it better this time around.

MARTIN: And just briefly, Jason, you were there covering the earthquake in 2010. You're there now on the ground in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. What is life like there right now?

BEAUBIEN: You know, life is tough. Just looking around us at the moment, all the trees have just got all of their leaves stripped off. Things are a mess. There's mud and people's - everywhere around, people - and a lot of people have lost their houses and are kind of living out in the open.

That said, things are also kind of going forward. Markets are popping back up by the sides of the streets. You know, the mototaxi guys are trying to get customers to give them rides places so they can make some money. You know, last night, we were actually driving back to our hotel where we're staying.

We drove past this church which had its roof completely torn off. It was like a two-story church. And it was just about dusk and the lights inside the church were lighting up where the roof used to be, the rafters. And you could see people in there praying. You know, it's something that Haiti has gotten very used to, dealing with disasters like this. And people, they go back to church. They go on with their lives.

MARTIN: NPR's Jason Beaubien in Les Cayes, Haiti. Thanks so much, Jason.

BEAUBIEN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jason Beaubien is NPR's Global Health and Development Correspondent on the Science Desk.