#HaitiRelief in the Wake of Matthew

New York City Council member Mathieu Eugene announcing #HaitiRelief efforts t City Hall on Oct. 6. (Twitter image from @CMMathieuEugene)

New York City Council member Mathieu Eugene announcing #HaitiRelief efforts at City Hall on Oct. 6. (Twitter image from @CMMathieuEugene)

On Oct. 6, as Hurricane Matthew headed toward Florida having left a trail of devastation in its wake in the Caribbean, Haitian-born New York City Council member Mathieu Eugene, a physician, was joined by colleagues on the steps of City Hall to announce #HaitiRelief efforts.

A few hours later, the New York Times was reporting that at least 283 people in Haiti were killed by the Category 4 hurricane that slammed the southern area of the nation. The death toll could climb as international aid workers reach the hardest-hit areas, said the New York Times.

Haiti, still not fully recovered from the effects of the 2010 earthquake, was pummeled by 140-mile an hour winds on Oct. 5. Officials in the nation of 11 million, which has the lowest income in the Western Hemisphere, postponed presidential elections that were scheduled for Sunday.

Eugene’s city council district, the 40th, spans neighborhoods of Brooklyn where Haitian and Caribbean immigrants reside, including Crown Heights, Flatbush, Prospect Park and Prospect Lefferts Gardens. Although Jamaica escaped the full force of Hurricane Matthew, the Bahamas and other parts of the Caribbean were in its path as it headed toward the Southeastern coast of the U.S.

Before the full extent of the damage was known, Clifford Michel wrote in the Amsterdam News that Caribbeans in the New York area were concerned about the damage that Hurricane Matthew would cause.

Sergine Regnie, a 22-year-old Haitian-American student at Brooklyn College, said that hearing about the storm made her think about the 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Jeanne, which struck Haiti in 2004.

“I had flashbacks about how many lives were lost and changed forever,” said Regnie, whose family lives in the north part of Haiti and was largely unaffected by the storm.

Also on Oct. 6, New York City Council member Jumaane Williams, Haitian-Americans Assembly member Rodneyse Bichotte and 42nd Assembly District leader Josue Pierre issued a joint statement offering their “deepest prayers and sympathy to the victims and all those affected by Hurricane Matthew, particularly in Haiti.” They added that they are “working closely with local Haitian organizations to identify needs and provide support to those impacted by the hurricane.”

They provided a list of organizations at which to donate assistance for all Caribbean nations affected by Matthew, and information about how to contact relatives in Haiti.

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