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Florida Nurses Land in Rural Haiti for Post-Hurricane Relief

Les Cayes, Haiti, one of the towns hit hard by Hurricane Matthew. Photo: UK Department for International Development, Flickr.
Les Cayes, Haiti, one of the towns hit hard by Hurricane Matthew. Photo: UK Department for International Development, Flickr.

A group of Florida nurses has landed in Port-au-Prince Haiti for a medical relief mission after Hurricane Matthew devastated the country. Members of the Haitian American Nurses Association and fellow volunteers made their way to the country's southwest peninsula to establish pop-up clinics in three badly hit rural areas.

Odeline Medacier, a nurse practitioner, has been doing missions in that part of Haiti for more than a decade.

"Usually by the time we get there, usually hundreds of people are waiting for us. Some of them have walked for miles and hours to come and wait for us," she says.

Devastation from the huricane has left some of the worst affected areas cut off for more than a week. Early damage assessments indicate crops have been wiped out and many towns have seen the vast majority of their buildings destroyed.

Medacier reminds the volunteers she is working with that even under normal circumstances and that this is an area with overwhelming need.

"The novices, you’re gonna see some things you haven’t seen before. We ask that [they] remain positive," she says.

According to Haitian officials, the death toll from Hurricane Matthew stands at 473. Some news reports put it closer to 1,000. The government is also bracing for the spread of cholera due to flooding and hunger as a result of crop losses.