Dear Friends and Family,
Many of you have been keenly interested in how things are after today’s hurricane.
I was out of Haiti for one week, since September 25, to give a retreat for priests in Connecticut, at Holy Family Monastery, and to attend a very brief event at La Scala Theater in Milan- to benefit our children’s hospital in Haiti, St Damien Hospital.
When the retreat ended on Friday and I saw the hurricane endangering Haiti, I decided to return to Haiti instead of going to Milan because of the urgency.
But I also felt great regret because I knew all the work and planning done by Fondazione Francesca Rava for the event.
I checked the online hurricane center for a last time, and hurricane Matthew was heading more toward Jamaica than Haiti, so I went to Milan on Friday as planned.
Matthew changed its course over the next days and headed again for Haiti, so I cut the 3 day trip short one day, and traveled yesterday from Milan to Madrid to Santo Domingo.
Kieran and Susana (from Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos, Dominican Republic) picked me up, and after a brief rest at their house we drove for five hours through very heavy rain and lightening, to the border with Haiti, at Malpasse.
We were there at 7 a.m. this morning.
It was windy, dark and rainy, and Raphael was already waiting for me 1 kilometer away at the Haitian side of the border. The border was closed, and we were the only vehicles on the road and I the only person to cross the closed border- thanks to the help of Susi and Kieran on the DR side and Rapho’s contacts on the Haiti side.
It seems no one wants to drive into a hurricane.
I didn’t either, but it was my place to be back with everyone else and shoulder whatever was coming together.
I crossed the kilometer of barren land between the two borders on a small motorcycle, drenched in rain, holding a big umbrella, my luggage on my knees. It was the only way.
There was a lot of flooding and damage in Port au Prince. We spend the day delivering water, food and supplies to the many areas in the slums where we work. We were taking from our storerooms everything we had available to help the people that Kenson, Fr Enzo, Raphael and others had identified as needing urgent help.
You will see from the newspapers the extent of the damage in the south/southwest of Haiti. It is unimaginably worse there, than the damage and flooding in Port au Prince.
We have no news at all of our schools and our staff in Les Cayes, Jacmel or Jeremie.
What is worse, the bridge near Leogane was washed away so there is no way at the moment to reach these places.
The Hurricane should be out of our way late tonight, so we will travel tomorrow morning with two small teams to visit our staffs and schools in the areas I just mentioned.
Nebez and Augusnel will lead one team, and Raphael, Enzo and I will be the second team.
My team will visit our staffs and be sure everyone is alright, and see what we need to gather help.
Nebez team will take longer, because in addition to visitng and assessing, they will plan the all the strategies with the local teams.
We just need to figure out how to cross a downed bridge, but we will.
We will keep you posted.
Thank you for your friendship, support and prayers.
Fr Rick Frechette
October 4th, 2016