Back Safely – Hurricane 2008

Back Safely – Hurricane 2008
What a trip! It was such a beautiful day when Harold and I left on Monday morning from Fon Doux and began climbing through the rough rocky roads of the south mountains. We visited a few clinics that day and then stopped to visit with some other missionary friends in the mountains. While we were there we began to gather from them that a hurricane was not far from Haiti. Neither Harold nor I had paid much attention to it but now we were looking at images on the internet that showed that indeed this “potentially dangerous storm” was not far away from us. We finished our round for that day and then drove to Labaleine where we would spend the night at Haiti Relief Mission. I had a nice time visiting with Marlin’s again, it seems that we should be able to see each other more but a 5-6 hour drive separates us and that makes it difficult to see each other real often.

That night before we went to bed we decided that we would wait and see what happens by morning, perhaps we would have time to return home yet before the storm gets to us. Tuesday morning dawned bright and clear, you would have thought nothing was coming, but behind the mountain loomed a large black cloud! We decided to “high tail it” for home! So, pedal to the medal, we went as fast as we safely could for Fon Doux where I had left my vehicle.
By the time we got to Fon Doux, the heavy clouds were coming over the mountain right in front of us. I asked Harold if he thought he could make it up the mountain to his home in Aleg? He thought he still had time. I decided I would not return to Titanyen because the storm was already on us and who knows what I would get into. So, I began to make preparation to “ride the thing out” in my little house in Fon Doux.
This was about 9:00am when we arrived in Fon Doux. By 11:00am rain and wind were already beginning to whip around us. I desperately needed to go to T-Goave yet for something, so me and Bruce and some others bailed in the truck and took off for town. We were there for maybe 1 hour and by that time it was really stormy so we headed for Fon Doux again. When we arrived in Fon Doux everything was relatively in place but the wind was beginning to really pick up.
In the mean time, Harold phoned me saying he had a flat tire up in the mountain and the “booger” came off the rim. He was having a very difficult time getting the bead to seal up so it would hold air again. I gave him some tips to try and he finally was able to get it to take air but this had delayed him for almost an hour. He continued on his way at last, weary and soaked to the bone, freezing cold air blasted him in the face as he made his way into the storm. But alas, when he came to the last river that flows through the area called Gera, he couldn’t get through the water, it was too deep. To make a long story short, he ended up spending the night in the little plywood box on the back of his Polaris Ranger, he didn’t sleep very well and I think I understand why! He plans to send a detailed story about his experience and I will forward that onto you all so you can read it.

Meanwhile, back in Fon Doux, I am quickly trying to get my goats to higher ground and securing my house. Water is running under the door so I am digging a canal to get it to go away from the door. After I am finished with these tasks and soaking wet, I go over to Bruce’s house and stay there for awhile. At about 2-3pm the wind began to pick up and blow viciously! I find it amazing the pressure that is in a hurricane! It’s unbelievable! Before long, one of the church brothers came running to Bruce’s and said that we must go rescue some of the widow ladies because their poorly built houses will not be able to withstand the winds. We put on our sandals and rolled up the pant legs and became a “professional rescue service”. We took the truck along the road and then would wade into the flood waters, (sometimes almost to our wastes) through the pouring rain and flying debris to get these old ladies out of their homes. In the mean time there were other people that began to run for the block school building in Fon Doux. Their houses were being destroyed, the roofs were lifting off, some were completely blown down or had trees fall on them. We worked until late that evening rescuing church people from the rising waters and wind. I was “bushed”! I have never in my life had such an experience, I believe it will stay with me the rest of my life! I tell you, we have no idea what it is like to try to ride out a storm like that in a house full of leaks and that the roof is bouncing up and down with every wind that blows.
After rescuing several old ladies and families we returned to the school to find that Bruce’s whole family was there also. Oh dear! Here part of his house roof blew off as well forcing him to leave and move his family to the school. Indeed, the school became a refuge in the time of storm!

Tues. night it rained and rained and rained some more. In all, Fon Doux had well over 20 in. of rain, the water gushed everywhere taking anything in its path. Bruce and many other people lost basically their whole garden to the storm, some lost houses, other’s lost part of their homes, lots of dead goats were found Wednesday morning.

There are places in the deep south that people were killed. In fact the one town Harold and I were just through on Monday basically got washed away. The people made a dash for the mountains in hopes of getting out of the rapidly rising water.
I continued to ride the storm out in Fon Doux. Wednesday morning when I awoke my house again had a bunch of water in it. Junior and I spent nearly an hour cleaning the water out and drying up the floor. In the afternoon I drove around to a few different places and took some pictures and then I walked to some of the church people’s houses that were destroyed and took pictures of those as well.
Please pray for these dear people, they have so little and then when the little they have is taken it really puts them in a tight spot, many have almost nothing to eat now because their gardens are destroyed! The price of food is still very high.
I am going to be trying to get some funds around to help rebuild some houses and hopefully help to repair the badly damaged ones. If anyone wants to donate some money to help rebuild these destroyed houses, you can just send it to Dad ear tagged for “Hurricane” and I will pass it on to Bruce and the committee that will be working to rebuild. I don’t have a figure yet on the amount of money it will take to rebuild the worst ones but hopefully I will have that within a few weeks. Any amount big or small will be a blessing and will help to get a roof on thedamaged houses again. I know there are at least 2 houses that are totally destroyed and there are several others that lost part or all of their roof. (We are basically working with people in the church at this point).

It was still raining when I left Fon Doux this morning to return to CAM but I think it’s almost over. The bad thing is that in Fon Doux it rains almost every afternoon this time of year and that is going to really make it difficult for those who have house damage.


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Published by

Elliott Tenpenny

Board Member