> Hurricane Sandy Hits Haiti: Dispatch from the Field
November 12, 2012
Two weeks ago, Hurricane Sandy hit Haiti with some of the worst rains the country has seen in recent years, and took the lives of over 50 Haitians. Our team was in the midst of the turmoil, and Jean-Baptiste Certain, our project manager, gave us a first-hand account of the hurricane’s impact:
By Jean-Baptiste Certain, SELF Project Manager, Haiti
Before the hurricane hit, about 10 of our team members were in the mountains of Haiti’s Central Plateau where we recently installed solar systems at some very isolated schools for the NRG project, and it rained way more than expected. For those guys, it’s been a “mud hell”… Our tank of a truck got stuck well over 10 times on the way down – they literally had to shovel the truck out with a group of farmers several times, the mud was well above the axles. This trip from Boucan Carré to Sivol usually takes 2-3 hours, but this time it took an entire day.
In the south, where we recently installed 12 solar systems for health centers, the destruction and flooding have been massive. In Randèl, a village located at the top of a fast-growing, very dangerous river, about 550 mm (21.6 inches) of water fell in two-and-a-half days, and about 700 mm (27.5 inches) of rain fell near Chantal in three days; our installations in both of those villages are top-pole mounts. The Prince of Norway’s visit to our site in Chantal was cancelled because of the rain – he would have to cross a river that normally has no bridge, but it swelled so much it’s now impassable.
One of my usual hotels in Port Salut in the south was half destroyed – rooms fell, the ocean entered the others – the Haitian owner said, “Good, it needed renovations!” – a true story!
We’re preparing to install the last two solar systems at Partners In Health clinics, but won’t be able to actually get there for days… We have to take over 50 kW of solar panels and over 50 large and heavy batteries that took three shipping containers to bring to Haiti.
Elsewhere, bridges fell, roads disappeared, and there was flooding everywhere. The river next to our house in Port-au-Prince was so high that it almost took out the only two bridges to Croix-des-Bouquets, and got real close to our house – that’s a rise of about 20 feet in three days!
But, our team is safe, and we didn’t break or lose anything. Makes you wonder though – what would have happened if the hurricane had actually passed right over us? And it was a category one, increasing to a category two – what would it have been like if it was a category four or five?! What would have happened to the tent camps that are still everywhere?
Haiti isn’t going to get out of the bush any time soon…
> Our New Website
September 12, 2012
We’re very excited to debut this new website! As we continue to grow and expand our projects around the world, we thought it was important to refresh our site to provide better access to new content like updates from the field and profiles of people benefiting from our solar solutions, in addition to highlighting our Whole Village Development Model. We’ve added a lot of extras, too, like photo galleries, blogs, and numerous ways to support our work.
Bob, our executive director, wants everyone to know that, “Our Whole Village Development Model is the culmination of our twenty-plus years of experience in the field. Through it, we’re transforming lives. Many adults for the first time have access to quality health care services, clean drinking water, and sustainable sources of food. And the children born into the communities where we work can now look forward to a lifetime of opportunities their parents may have never dreamed about.”
We hope that you find the new site both informational and inspiring – thanks for stopping by!