On the evening of Saturday, October 6, a 5.9-magnitude earthquake struck 12 miles north of Port-de-Paix, a city of about 250,000 people in Haiti’s Northwest department. This was followed by two aftershocks: 5.2-magnitude on Sunday, October 7 and 4.2-magnitude on Monday, October 8.
Based on initial assessments that were mostly conducted in urban areas, the government of Haiti reports that:
• 17 people died, 427 people were injured and 729 people are living in shelters.
• buildings have been damaged or destroyed, including schools (two destroyed, seven severely damaged), churches, state buildings.
• 7,784 houses were partially or totally damaged.
• further action is needed to calm and reassure the public about the current situation.
• there haven’t been major issues with bridges, roads or the airport.
The Haitian government has said that it intends to lead response efforts and that international agencies must avoid responding on their own. Organizations like CWS should operate in collaboration with the government. One of the areas where the government has requested support is to evaluate schools and other buildings in affected areas.
CWS partners are continuing their assessments this week. So far, they have reported widespread damage to houses, schools and clinics and the need to repair rural roads to facilitate the assessment and response. Initial reports show that CWS-built houses that have been part of our Hurricane Matthew response in the area are undamaged. A more thorough assessment is now being conducted.
In the affected areas, CWS supports farmers associations and helps families rebuild houses that were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in 2016. CWS has completed 83 houses so far, and another 35 are currently under construction. In the area CWS also supports a variety of community-led initiatives in the areas of food security, women and farmers´ access to microcredit, community-based disaster risk reduction, reforestation and resilient livelihoods. CWS is currently assessing damage in all these areas.
In coordination with Haiti’s Civil Protection Agency and our partners, three CWS staff are in affected communities conducting damage and needs assessments. That includes the CWS Northwest Coordinator and two engineers. Team members are visiting communities in Gros Morne, Bassin Bleu, Port-de-Paix, Jean Rabel (Lacoma) and Saint Louis du Nord. Additionally, this week our team connected partner NGOs to local organizations to provide supplies and psychosocial support.
We plan to respond through housing and school repair and reconstruction in addition to limited support to psychosocial activities, preferably in communities where CWS is currently implementing sustainable development programs. A formal appeal will be issued in the next week, and the ACT Alliance Haiti Forum will be kept informed of our assessment findings and response activities.
How to Help
Donations to support our response may be made at cwsglobal.org/haiti-earthquake or sent to your denomination or to Church World Service, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN. Please designate 6772-Haiti earthquake response.
CWS is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of churches and agencies engaged in development, humanitarian assistance and advocacy.