CLONAKILTY native Nellie Kingston is leading Concern Worldwide’s recovery effort in Haiti in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.
Six years after a devastating earthquake killed over 300,000 people in the impoverished nation, the category 4 storm – with winds of up to 230kph – is hitting villages and towns this week.
Three people have been confirmed dead, but Nellie believes that things could have been even worse.
‘We’re very lucky that there have only been three deaths,’ she told Seán O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio 1. ‘A lot of people have been evacuated, maybe 50,000, there are houses damaged and people are living in shelters, schools and churches are being used.
‘We had mudslides, these are very common after such a heavy deluge. We’ve had infrastructure damage, electricity lines down, so there are logistical issues to deal with. The water has flooded the drains and made the waste rise so there is the risk of cholera.
‘We are trying to prevent the risk of water-borne diseases now that the event has happened.’
The storm comes just six years after an earthquake which killed more than 300,000 and left 1.5m homeless, and four years after Hurricane Sandy. Haiti is the poorest county in the western hemisphere.
‘People have just come through the most horrific earthquake in recent memory,’ Nellie said. One of the good news stories is that Concern was working on the ravines to straighten channels and take water away from homes. Donations for the Haiti Hurricane Matthew appeal can be made by calling 1850 211 844 or online at www.concern.net.