Haiti earthquake: 'Tonight we'll have a proper meal'
MANICHE - When a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck large areas of Southern Haiti at 08:30 on the morning of Saturday 14 August, Fleurimont Michel had gone to the market. It was just a regular Saturday morning, when she buys food supplies for the family. In a few seconds, her whole life was transformed.
“The earth moved under my feet. My first thought was to run back home to save my children. I kept thinking that if our house had collapsed, they would have died,” she says. “I fell three times on the way back. There were cracks on the road. The ground had turned into mud.”
“When I finally got home. I saw that the walls of our house had fallen. But my children were there, they were safe. They were covered in dirt, because the tremor made them fall to the ground. But they were safe. We were all safe.”
As she tells her story, Fleurimont Michel is sitting in her backyard, throwing a few handfuls of peas into a cooking pot. Her two youngest daughters watch her. Pregnant with her fifth child, she was given priority at a World Food Programme (WFP) emergency food distribution organized that morning on the grounds of a nearby school. She received a bag of 50 kg of rice, 12 kg of peas and 3.7 litres of vegetable oil.
The mountainous area of Maniche, one hour’s drive north of the regional capital Les Cayes, was one of the hardest-hit by the earthquake. “In the city centre, 98 percent of the houses have been destroyed,” says local mayor Jean-David Brimare. Many people are still missing, mostly farmers who had gone to their fields early in the morning and are now feared dead and buried under several landslides caused by the earthquake.
“It’s a catastrophe,” the mayor continues. “People are sleeping in the open. There is a massive need for shelter and food assistance. When their houses fell, they lost everything. I’m sending an SOS to all the people of goodwill and organizations to help us overcome this great difficulty.”
Local authorities estimate that about 15,000 people in Maniche need immediate assistance. Within two weeks of the earthquake, WFP staff, together with teams from Haiti’s Civil Protection, have already provided food supplies to 10,000 residents.
“Until we received the assistance, we had to pick bananas and avocados from the trees,” says Fleurimont. “Now I’m happy, very happy with the assistance we received. It will help us a lot. It had been a long time since I last cooked peas. Tonight, we will have a proper meal!”