Over 1,000 People Died Because Of Hurricane Matthew In Haiti Before It Hit Florida
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WARNING: CONTAINS ONE GRAPHIC IMAGE
I'M PUTTING THIS AT THE START OF THE ARTICLE AS WELL AS THE END, JUST TO ENSURE MAXIMUM IMPACT:
If you wish to help the people in Haiti, give to Oxfam now.
If you've got anything to spare then please, please donate.
This morning I got hurricane Matthew thrown in my face. Sure, I'd seen it was going to hit Florida imminently, but I genuinely couldn't have told you that over 800 people in Haiti had died just days previously from the same natural disaster devastating the country. That's right, Hurricane Matthew first ravaged the already impoverished and desperate island on Tuesday, with scores of bodies washing up. I assumed the storm was going to affect Caribbean islands, but never thought that much of it because I didn't see it being heavily reported. I assumed that human devastation was minimal. I was very wrong.
It's my job to find out what's happening in the world and, to my shame, I didn't know about the utterly horrendous events at the Caribbean island until it was perfunctorily mentioned as a throw away comment in a few reports today. I can find what The Rock had for breakfast, I can tell you what Conor McGregor does in his spare time, but I can't find anything on a humanitarian crisis for days.
Les Cayes in Haiti. Credit: PA
Bearing in mind that this is the same Haiti that had an horrendous earthquake in 2010, which did receive significant media attention, why is this disaster less prevalent? Is it because it's affecting the USA as well? Is that more important than Haiti? It is simply because not as many people have died in the hurricane as the earthquake six years earlier?
Sure, it has been reported, but not to any level that it deserves. I find this utterly perplexing and again I apologise to you that we did not report this earlier.
Why is it that people care 'more' when it attacks lovely, sunny Florida but when it devastates communities that don't have the same GDP, that don't have the same pair of clowns running for president, that isn't the 'land of the free', people don't care as much? At best, there's been apathy to the plight of Haitians. 10 million people living in poverty and now suffering from yet another natural disaster, and it's been treated like no big deal.
Haiti is suffering from another humanitarian crisis caused by a natural disaster. Credit: PA
Don't get me wrong - the hurricane hitting Haiti and Florida are both terribly tragic and sympathy should be spread out - it's perfectly acceptable to look at two events and not compare death tolls, but it's very odd that over 800 people died in Haiti, and there was barely a whisper. More of a whimper, an apologetic 'ah, that's sad'.
So let me tell you about it now.
The BBC, which commenters on its site seem to love to lament more than our very own page, has reported on it, and has also given an update today.
But the BBC is in the minority. Sure, lots of media groups may report something, but they hide the story away on the website, rather than pushing it on social media platforms which is, in reality, the most effective way of reaching people. It means they can say they are socially responsible, they do care, but it's not going to get them loads of money so they'll just leave it at that.
Aid workers have said that up to 90 percent of some areas of Haiti have been destroyed, with the south side particularly badly affected. Furthermore, nearly 900 people have been confirmed to have died. This number is expected to rise well past 1,000. If 1,000 people died in France, or Japan, or the United Arab Emirates, the world would be all over it.
A body is washed up after the devastating floods. Credit: PA
350,000 people are currently in desperate need of humanitarian aid in Haiti, with many civilians hard to access.
Winds up to 145 miles per hours ripped into the impoverished country, still crippled by the earthquake six years earlier that killed anywhere between 100,000 people to 316,000. That's almost incomprehensible. Depending on whichever stat you use, that's like the population of Iceland wiped out.
A survivor of the hurricane, John-Pierre Jean-Donald, told Reuters:
"The entire house fell on us. I couldn't get out. People came to lift the rubble, and then we saw my wife, who had died." And this has happened to hundreds and thousands of people. People who now no longer have a mother, a father, a son, a daughter.
It has destroyed infrastructure and many roads are no longer accessible.
Currently the US is sending a naval vessel to help with the aid efforts, along with nine military helicopters. Keeping with my argument of apathy and perfunctory help, that sounds minimal to me. Let's pretend we're making an effort.
There is also a fear of water borne diseases such as cholera spreading, with scant access to fresh water.
The town of Jeramie before and after. Credit: Google Maps
The hurricane has also hit Cuba, the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas, though only four people have passed away in the Dominican Republic and there were no casualties reported in Cuba or the Bahamas.
This isn't just a Florida thing. It's time to give a toss.
If you wish to help, give to Oxfam now.
I just gave a fiver. If you've got anything to spare then please, please donate.
Jeramie now. Main image credit: Google Maps