Montrealers struggle to reach loved ones in Haiti

Anxious relatives in Montreal are struggling to contact loved ones in Haiti, where the death toll continues to mount in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.

Hurricane Matthew continues to move up Florida coast after ravaging parts of Caribbean

People walk down the street next to destroyed houses after Hurricane Matthew passes Jeremie, Haiti. (Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

Anxious relatives in Montreal are having a hard time contacting loved ones in Haiti, where the death toll continues to mount in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.

The storm has ravaged parts of the Caribbean as it moves north toward the United States along the Florida coast.

Some Haitian-Montrealers like Jean-Michel Baptiste say they haven't been able to speak to their family back home at all.

Baptiste is desperate for news from his hometown of Jérémie, where homes and buildings have been destroyed. 

"It's very hard. You can't do anything, you know?" he said. "All we can do is wait to see if we can bring something to them and bring help over there."

Residents repair their homes destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti. (Dieu Nalio Chery/Associated Press)

'I'm scared and I'm worried'

The devastation is so immense that aid groups are scrambling to get to the southwest of Haiti ravaged by the storm, where people are without phones or electricity. Some are already running out of food.

"They are reporting just utter devastation," Holly Frew, an emergency co-ordinator with Care Canada in Port-au-Prince, told CBC News.

"They said an estimated 80 per cent of the buildings and houses are destroyed and everyone is in a state of utter shock."

People walk on the road as rain falls during Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti. (Andres Martinez Casares/Reuters)

Marie-Dominique Fortuma is a host at Montreal's Haitian radio station, which serves as a lifeline for the city's Haitian population. Originally from Les Cayes and with family still in Haiti, she said it is difficult to know the true scope of the hurricane's damage.

"This morning I was crying because I was wondering how are they going to live now? What are they going to do?"

Over the past few days, Fortuma has tried to contact her loved ones in some of the most hard-hit towns, but to no avail.

"I'm scared and I'm worried," she said.

"We know some of them are OK but there's another part of the country where there is a landslide."

Echoes of the past

For both Fortuma and Baptiste, the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew reminds them of the deadly earthquake that killed more than 230,000 people in 2010.

"There are so many things that have happened to this country, you know?" Baptiste said. "It seems like déjà vu."

Marie-Dominique Fortuma has been unable to contact half of her family in Haiti. (CBC)

Fortuma said she hopes for the best, but that she doesn't know if her native country will be able to rebuild after another large-scale catastrophe.

"The whole country has been destroyed and I'm wondering what's going on and why all this is happening to us."

With files from Alison Northcott