Haiti: Responding to the Aftermath of Hurricane Matthew

In the areas of Haiti hit hardest by Hurricane Matthew, many communities remain cut off from aid, rendered inaccessible by the storm. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) patients and staff members tell their stories in their own words.
Lopino, a village in the mountains around Jérémie is one of the many isolated communities severely affected by hurricane Matthew. Consisting of small houses settled in a rocky valley and once high banana trees, the village is today surrounded by cut-off trunks and debris from trees and various materials lie on the side of the streets. A coloured brick façade is everything that is left of the church. Many residents fled to the village's health centre during the hurricane, and it is today used for medical consultations. 
Testimony of patients
 “My mother and son were both in our home when the hurricane struck, while I was in another village, says Liselle, Annette’s daughter who brought them to the clinic. “The wind blew a piece of metal sheeting of the house and fell down on them. They could barely move, and the room filled with water. When the storm had ended, I rushed back home and found our home damaged and both of them injured. They had open bruises on the feet and the back of the head. The nurses from our health centre had gone to Jérémie to take refuge there, so my mother bandaged her wounds with the help of a person in the village. This man also stitched the wound on my son’s head.”
“My son was hurting and I could not even give him enough to eat. My mother’s injuries were causing her so much pain, especially when pus got into her ankle wound. She couldn’t walk and barely wanted to eat. There was no way to get her to the hospital like this. I took them immediately to the clinic when I heard about it.”
“There was a water station in the village but it was broken during the storm. It is still covered in branches and pieces of rocks and metal. There is also a water source further away, but the trees are blocking most of the access. It’s really difficult to find clean water.”
The wounds of Givro (son, 15-year-old) and Annette (80-year-old) were cleaned and bandaged, and Annette received a Tetanos vaccine as she had no vaccination card. MSF mobile teams return to Lopino to follow up on the patients they consulted. 
Testimony of Dr Danielle Perriault
“This morning, our mobile clinic headed to Lopino, a village in the mountains that can only be reached by helicopter. Like most villages in Grand Anse, hurricane Matthew left a trail of destruction here. The streets are bordered by fallen trees and debris, and the valley is covered in trees torn in half. Only a red and white front remains of the church. Luckily the health centre, which served as refuge for the residents, survived the hurricane.
Most of the gear we bring along is equipment to treat open infected wounds, to put casts on fractures or to vaccinate against Tetanus.
Our time in the village is always limited, because the frequent storms during the rainy seasons restrict the helicopter flights. Even when we reach a village by car, the drive on damaged roads can last more than two hours one way, reducing as well the time available with patients. So we have to work as quickly as possible. Today, we treated 58 patients, but there were days in which we treated up to 90 patients until the afternoon. Our priority is to treat open wounds, fractures and pediatric emergencies.
It’s been two weeks that these people have painful injuries or broken bones without treatment. Fractures, whether simple, complicated or open, are sometimes stabilized by traditional healers. You can all too well imagine the suffering of people left without care for two weeks. And there are still so many people we haven’t reached yet.
As we arrived in another village a couple of days ago, the priest was the only person to welcome us at the health centre, because all the nurses had left the village. There were many people waiting for treatment this day. Each one of us was so concentrated on seeing all the patients that finally, I resolved to ask the priest to help put a cast on a broken leg!
The lack of food adds to the patient’s trauma. Several days ago, I treated an elderly woman with severe burns on her hand. As she refused an injection against the pain, I tried to distract her by talking about her family. She had lost her two children and was now the only caretaker for her two grandchildren.  Her only worry during the treatment was the reality that when she was leaving the clinic, she would go home with no food to feed her grandchildren.”