Episcopal Relief & Development continues to provide technical assistance to local partners in the areas affected by Hurricane Matthew, as the storm dissipates over the Atlantic Ocean. In the places most severely impacted, information gathering is hampered by downed communications lines, widespread power outages and damage to critical roads and bridges. For example, the main bridge that connects the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince to the nation’s southern peninsula was destroyed, causing significant delays in relief supplies and disaster responders accessing devastated parts of the country.

Episcopal Relief & Development Web Statement“Due to the power outages and communications challenges in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, information about the scale of the storm’s impact is coming in slowly,” said Abagail Nelson, Episcopal Relief & Development’s Senior Vice President for Programs. “From what we are seeing so far, the damage is extensive in a number of areas and it will take a long time, even years, for many of these places to recover.”

Nearing one week after the storm, Episcopal Church-affiliated organizations and networks in Haiti and Cuba continue to assess damage and respond to emergency needs. In Haiti, Episcopal Relief & Development support will enable local partners such as the Bishop Tharp Institute (BTI) to provide food and water to displaced people sheltering on the school’s campus. BTI is located in Les Cayes, one of the most hard-hit areas of Haiti’s southern peninsula. As of October 9, more than 1.4 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance and over 61,000 people are in temporary shelters, according to UN OCHA. The Haitian Directorate for Civil Protection has confirmed 336 fatalities as of October 8, though other sources place the death toll upwards of 1,000.

In the United States, the slow-moving storm grazed the Florida coast and had a large impact further north into the Carolinas. Episcopal Relief & Development is in contact with dioceses along the southern Atlantic coast, providing technical assistance to local leaders who are reaching out in their communities. After several days of heavy rain, flood levels continue to rise in areas of South Carolina and eastern North Carolina, stranding large numbers of people and prompting evacuations. Church partners are monitoring the situation locally and communicating as able regarding property damage and community members with emergency needs.

Please continue to pray for communities affected by Hurricane Matthew, for first responders who are rescuing and caring for people in need and for the families and friends of those who lost their lives.

Donations to the Hurricane Matthew Response Fund will help Episcopal Relief & Development support Episcopal networks in providing critical assistance to communities in need.