Hurricane Matthew relief effort in Haiti enters new phase

Published 10:00 am Friday, October 14, 2016

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — An international relief effort for victims of Hurricane Matthew entered a more advanced stage Thursday as a second U.S. military ship arrived off Haiti’s coast and U.N. convoys and non-government organizations began reaching more isolated communities.

Food, clean water and construction materials have begun pouring into the southwestern peninsula, though many people there still say they’ve seen little or no aid.

Those working to send everything from water purification systems to building materials say the scope of the damage from Matthew and the difficulty reaching people create logistical challenges similar to those faced after the devastating earthquake that struck the crowded capital and surrounding areas in January 2010. But while the death toll from last week’s storm is in the hundreds, the Haitian government has said the earthquake killed more than 300,000.

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“There’s just so much to do, not to make it more than the earthquake, but it’s so widespread, it’s everything across the board,” said Chris Bessey, the country representative for Catholic Relief Services.

The Haitian government says more than 1.4 million people urgently need humanitarian assistance. The official death toll is 473, though local officials have reported figures suggesting it will eventually be higher, and the homes of more than 120,000 families were damaged or destroyed.