Was Haiti Truly Destroyed by Hurricane Matthew?
Travelers Wonder if Haiti Has Recovered from Hurricane Matthew
Some would say that the subject matter of this post, Hurricane Matthew which hit Haiti in late 2016, comes a bit late. But the concerns that many would-be travelers to Haiti have, still persist some 4 months after the hurricane struck Haiti. This is evidenced by the inquiries we continue to get from potential guests, such as this one:
My name is <withheld> and my friend <withheld> and I are interested in booking your gorgeous listing for a trip to Jacmel next month. We just had some concerns about whether or not the local area would be under substantial repair as a result of the storm that passed last year or if everything was still ok for travel and excursions. If you could please be candid with us on this matter it'd be greatly appreciated! Thank you in advance!
Was ALL of Haiti Devastated?
Here is a shortened version of our response:
We totally understand your concerns and a few guests have had the same concerns.
But actually not much has changed in most of the country since the hurricane. This is because the hurricane did not damage the whole country. In fact most places only had light to strong rain.
The areas that were severely damaged were Cap Haitian, in the very north, and the westernmost south tip of the country. That area is from Les Cayes (more than 4 hours away from Jacmel) and going westward. Those 2 areas suffered severe devastation and sadly, the loss of countless lives.
As for the Jacmel area, where we are located, it was in fact hit with strong winds and waves, but had only isolated minor coastal damage.
Our own property also had only minor cosmetic damage, mostly affecting the landscaping. We were very fortunate and grateful, and were in fact receiving guests just a few days later, after some quick repairs to the landscaping.
Here's a map of Haiti showing the areas hit hardest by Hurricane Matthew:
The red outlines show the approximate areas hit the hardest by the hurricane. The blue shape shows the Jacmel area, which was sparred heavy damage and thankfully had no reported loss of lives.
According to a damage assessment map from OCHA/ReliefWeb, 50% to 97% of houses on the southern peninsula were damaged. Meanwhile, for most of the rest of the mainland, less than 0.7% of houses were destroyed. The map also shows the exact path of the hurricane trough the very west end of the peninsula, which explains how most of the island was spared.
Follow the link below to for a damage assessment map from OCHA/ReliefWeb.
How Did Coterelle Breeze Fare?
Here are some before and after pictures of Coterelle Breeze, showing the changes in the landscape.
Notice the circular potters around the coconut trees, the potter along the fence, and the fence itself.
The fence along the ocean was redone. It is now composed of treated wood with concrete posts.
The potters along the fence and around the trees were washed away. We like this clean look but will introduce a few plants in posts along the fence, once those plants graduate from the nursery.
Birth of the Misconception
By no means do we mean to suggest that Haiti did not suffer tragic losses. She certainly did. The death toll has been reported to be between 500 to 1000, while thousands more have lost all their possessions and continue to suffer in the areas that were heavily hit.
The city of Jacmel likewise suffered no major damage, and there were thankfully no reported fatalities.
But the misconception was, and remains for many, that the entire country was devastated by Hurricane Matthew. This false notion was born from news reports throughout the world loudly pronouncing "Haiti Devastated by Hurricane Matthew!" or something similar. Understandably, anyone not familiar with the Haitian geography or not having any strong ties to Haiti, would take such headlines at face value. More accurate, but of course less sensational headlines should have read "Some Parts of Haiti Devastated by Hurricane Matthew".
The Reality: Travelers Need Not Worry
The reality is that a great portion of the country continued to operate as before. In deed, the Haitian people are nothing if not resilient. To the best of our knowledge, the Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-Au-Prince (PAP) suffered no hurricane related damages. The roads in PAP and leading to Jacmel had no major damages. The city of Jacmel likewise suffered no major damage, and there were thankfully no reported fatalities.
The warm sun of Haiti and the friendly people of Jacmel look forward to welcoming you!
If you are contemplating a trip to Haiti, to areas such as Les Cayes, Port Salut, and Jeremie, all located in the southwest point of the island, by all means inquire about the road conditions leading to those cities and also about the facilities there.
But if you are traveling to the popular destinations such as Port-Au-Prince, Ile a Vache, Leogane, Hinche, and especially our home, Jacmel and Marigot, put your worries away. The warm sun of Haiti and the friendly people of Jacmel look forward to welcoming you!
Check out this map of Haiti to locate the locations mentioned above:
Join in on the conversation
We'd love to hear what you think on this subject. Did you or someone you know travel to the south of Haiti recently? What was the experience like? Any suggestions for would be travelers? Let us know in the comments below.