On Wednesday, we were able to take a day trip along the coast. We were only able to make it as far as Les Anglais because TS Tomas decided to leave the rivers overflowing, and stole some of the roads. Our purpose of this journey was to deliver emergency food to those in dire straights, but I quickly came to realize that a box of vitamin enriched food was really a joke compared to the real need.
As we made our way up the coast, the scene became more devastating. When we reached Roche a Bateau, I couldn't really believe what I was seeing. I had just been up the coast a couple weeks earlier, and the foliage was lush, green, and felt like the Caribbean. On this day, the landscape was the opposite. TS Tomas had beaten the trees to death. Literally. All of the leaves were brown, garbage covered the coast, and the lush feeling had washed out to sea.
Most of the homes along the coast in Roche a Bateau suffered from flooding. The general response to flooding is, "Ok, well that is not that bad. The water dries up." Wrong. I met a woman who was inside her home when the flooding began. "At 4:30 am, the water started to rise, and the wind started to blow. It got higher and higher, so high that someone had to swim into our home to save me and my children. We swam out and up to safety. When the water had gone down, we went back into our home. Everything was gone. Everything. We still have a roof, thank God, but we have no beds, pots, pans, clothes. My children lost their school books. Everything."
Even further up the coast in Chardonierre, the city before Les Anglais, things got worse.
This is Lajoie Osner and his home. He now has nothing but the thatched roof to his home. He is living in the local hospital.
This is Emilienne Flerjein standing in the doorway to her home- notice the cacti barrier in the foreground. The force of the rain and wind blew the barrier over completely.
This is Marise Lajoie and her home. The winds and flooding tore half of her home, and all of her belongings away. She and her two grandchildren are now living in the nearby hospital which has become a shelter to the recent homeless.
After our minimal relief service- a mere box of uncooked rice- we continued up the coast. When we reached Les Anglais, we were greeted by a rushing river of brown. Like many, our vehicle was not equipped to cross. The current process to receive goods on the other side of the river is to cross by foot, wait for another vehicle to pick up the goods, and then transport them. Unless the water goes down, people are going to start to go hungry.
We were hoping to make it all the way up to Tiburon. Unfortunately, that did not happen. From speaking to the people in the various towns along the coast, we determined that close to 1000 homes were damaged and/or destroyed.