'Entire communities homeless': Yukoner helps Haitians after Hurricane Matthew

Morgan Wienberg, founder of Little Footprints, Big Steps, a charity to help street kids in Haiti, is now in the middle of a disaster zone. Her last message to her mother on Tuesday: "phone will die soon, no power in town. Busy but fine."

Morgan Wienberg, who runs a charity in Haiti, now in the middle of disaster zone

Flooding in Les Cayes, Haiti, after Hurricane Matthew. (submitted by Morgan Wienberg)

Morgan Wienberg, a Yukoner who works with vulnerable children in Haiti, managed to send a text message to her mother from Les Cayes, Haiti, sometime on Tuesday.

"I am OK.... my kids are OK...5 street kids showed up at my place at 3 am, Insane Flooding, Entire Communities homeless, many dead, calm weather, but flooding ridiculous... phone will die soon, no power in town. Busy but fine."

Wienberg founded her charity, Little Footprints, Big Steps, in the aftermath of another major disaster in Haiti — the 2010 earthquake — and she's been decorated for her work. Now she's working to help the people and communities she's come to know deal with another crisis.

Before the flood: Morgan Wienberg with two of the street children she started working with in 2012. The 24-year-old travelled to Haiti after graduating from high school in 2010. After volunteering at a corrupt orphanage for a few months, she decided to form her own organization, Little Footprints, Big Steps, to help kids on the streets. (submitted by Morgan Wienberg)

Hurricane Matthew swept across a remote area of Haiti on Tuesday with 233 km/h winds, and government leaders said they weren't close to fully gauging the impact in the vulnerable, flood-prone country where less powerful storms have killed thousands.

Karen Wienberg, Morgan's mother, has been waiting for further updates from her daughter, but she may be waiting a while — at least until Morgan is able to re-charge her phone.

"The damage is devastating," said Karen Morgan. "Right now, it's trying to make sure [people] have food and water."

'Everything's underwater'

Karen — who's the chair of the Little Footprints, Big Steps board — says before Tuesday, Morgan and others had been working hard to prepare for the worst. She said they gathered emergency supplies, and also worked to warn people in rural areas of the hurricane's approach.

Karen said impoverished Haitians, living in huts in the hills, have no phones, radios or TVs, so "they didn't know anything was coming."

Now, it's a struggle to cope with the damage and devastation. There are no emergency shelters in the area, and no way yet for aid to reach the area.

"Everything's underwater," Karen said.

"Some of the supplies that Little Footprints had, they took what they could and put them into little survival packages to give out to some of these families."

Mourad Wahba, UN secretary general's deputy special representative for Haiti, said at least 10,000 people in the country were in shelters and hospitals were overflowing and running short of water. Wahba's statement called the hurricane's destruction the "largest humanitarian event" in Haiti since the devastating earthquake of January 2010.

'The recovery and cleanup is way down the road,' said Morgan Wienberg's mother, Karen. She's in Whitehorse, waiting for further messages from Morgan. (submitted by Morgan Wienberg)

With files from Sandi Coleman and the Associated Press


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