Hollis Haitian group calls for donations as hurricane death toll rises

A woman walks down a road in Tabarre, Haiti on Monday, the day before Hurricane Matthew was scheduled to hit the country.
Photo by Dieu Nalio Chery/AP
By Patrick Donachie

Hurricane Matthew, which swept across the southern tip of Haiti and left nearly 600 people dead, unleashed a path of destruction that has been felt in Queens.

The borough’s concerned Haitian community was keeping a close watch on developments in the island nation, where the Category 4 hurricane destroyed large parts of Jeremie, a city on the southwestern coast, and other towns late Tuesday and into Wednesday.

Reuters reported Friday that at least 572 people had been killed in the storm with unofficial estimates running close to 900 fatalities. The BBC said 80 percent of the buildings in Jeremie, a town of about 30,000, had been leveled.

A Haitian-American organization in southeast Queens put out a call for donations to assist in relief efforts as Hurricane Matthew battered the Caribbean nation Tuesday. The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere still is recovering from a devastating earthquake six years ago that killed more than 300,000 and destroyed much of Haiti’s fragile infrastructure.

The Haitian-Americans United for Progress organization, located at 197-17 Hillside Ave. in Hollis, has set up a special page on its website for people to donate money that will go toward rebuilding in the aftermath of the hurricane. The organization helps to support schools and families in two villages in Haiti, Masson and Sarazin, which are located a few miles from Port-au-Prince, the capital. The hardest-hit section in the southwest was cut off for more than a day and rescue workers still were struggling to reach residents in remote areas.

“We are grateful to all of you who have reached out to check on our families, and our schools, and your offers to help with funds and supplies,” HAUP Executive Director Elsie Saint Louis said in a statement. “We are committed to the welfare of these children and their families and pledged our support and limited resources to help them through the very difficult days ahead.”

She also noted that preliminary information relayed to the organization revealed that the students they had sheltered in their schools were safe. People interested in contributing can visit www.haupinc.org to donate, or can donate with organizations such as UNICEF or the International Red Cross.

Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdonachie@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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