Hands On in Haiti



Hands On Disaster Response initiated a project in Haiti following the catastrophic flood damage caused by a series of four hurricanes and tropical storms that hit the island in August and September, 2008. We located in the country's fifth largest city, Gonaives, on the coast 60 miles north (a 4 hour drive!) of the capital, Port-au-Prince.

Our base was set up in a small former hotel ( Click for satellite view. ) that was lacking a few things like electricty, plumbing fixtures, water, and so forth. We fixed the plumbing, drilled a new well, replaced wiring, and installed a small generator for electricty.

The storms caused very little wind damage, but since Gonaives is located at the outlet of a large valley and there's no vegetation to hold back the water in Haiti, there was considerable flooding which left several feet of mud in many of the buildings. Schools were closed and people ended up in refugee camps or camping on the flat roofs of their homes.

David arrived at the beginning of the project in early October and stayed for a month and a half. Jo-Ann arrived in November for a week.

Our main job was digging out mud from people's homes so the families could get back in there houses. The side streets were full of mud piles, so we weren't always able to wheelbarrow the mud, having instead to pass it outside by hand using bucket brigades.

We also helped muck out one of the only two free schools in the city and we repainted the classrooms, allowing 700 students to return to classes.

Photos Click here for our photos of Project Gonaives.

Haiti map



Some news footage of the disaster: