Ottawa

Local Haitian Canadians wait and worry over fate of loved ones

Members of Ottawa's Haitian community are mobilizing to help people in their homeland devastated by Hurricane Matthew.

Haitian ambassador says outpouring of help has been overwhelming

A mother and daughter sit in the ruins of their home destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti. (The Associated Press)

Members of Ottawa's Haitian community are mobilizing to help people in their homeland devastated by Hurricane Matthew.

As emergency crews and humanitarian workers make their way into parts of the storm-ravaged country, the number of reported fatalities is climbing.

Officials in Haiti estimate at least 842 people have been killed to date. Because communication to much of the country has been knocked out, many here in Ottawa don't know if their relatives are alive, or still have homes.   

We haven't been out of the first [disaster] yet and we are hit again.- Haitian ambassador Fratnz Liautaud

Jude Jean-Francois, whose hometown of Jérémie was hit especially hard, has been desperately trying to reach his aunt and cousins there, without success.

"Last time we heard of them was Monday morning, 5:30, and the hurricane was already knocking at their door. But the communications was already out, but since then no news," he said. 

Haiti's ambassador to Canada says he's been overwhelmed by offers of help from the large Haitian community in Ottawa.

Frantz Liautaud, Haiti's ambassador, says the response from Haitian Canadians in the wake of Hurricane Matthew has been overwhelming.

Frantz Liautaud says coming so soon after the 2010 earthquake that devastated the capital, Port-au-Prince, support will be needed in the coming months. 

"Fortunately, Haitians have a repeated experience of doing that. We haven't been out of the first [disaster] yet and we are hit again. And it is a country where people are known to be hard workers and who face adversity always with a smile even though it doesn't call for smiles," said Liautaud.

The Red Cross is one of the lead agencies on the ground in Haiti.

Those who want to help fund relief efforts can drop into a Red Cross office, or visit their website. 

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