Many parts of Haiti devastated by Hurricane Matthew were still without aid early Tuesday, as the U.N. launched an emergency appeal for almost $120 milion in life-saving help for 750,000 survivors at risk of starvation or cholera.
Aid is trickling into the impoverished nation, where hundreds of people were killed by last week’s 145 mph winds and at least a dozen more have died from disease.
“Some towns and villages have been almost wiped off the map,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters late Monday. “Tensions are already mounting as people await help. A massive response is required. U.N. teams are working with local officials to assess needs.”
In total, the U.N. says 1.4 million Haitians are in need of assistance out of 2.1 million affected by the hurricane.
U.S. Marines are helping to distribute food aid, but doctors in the extreme southwestern tip of Haiti said they were still awaiting medicine a week after the hurricane struck.
Food, medicine and fresh water has been arriving at the main city in the area but is slow to reach increasingly desperate remote communities.
“There’s no water, no antibiotics,” Herby Jean told The Associated Press in the seaside village of Dame Marie. “Everything is depleted … We hear helicopters flying overhead, but we’re not getting anything.”
Among the patients in a makeshift hospital there was Beauvoir Luckner, a cobbler and farmer who walked 7 miles in three days after a tree crushed his leg and killed his mother.
“It took a lot of misery to get here and now that I’m here, there’s still misery,” he said.
Meanwhile, at a cramped police station serving as a clinic in the nearby town of Marfranc, Darline Derosier was the only health worker treating survivors who included an elderly woman lying unconscious on a jail cell floor with a leg bandaged in an old rag.
“People will die soon if we don’t get some aid,” Derosier told the AP.
Among those taking medical supplies to Haiti were Washington Redskins players Pierre Garçon and Ricky Jean Francois, who are of Haitian descent. They flew to the island Monday on a private jet arranged by Redskins owner, Dan Snyder.
Roosevelt Zamos of Haiti’s Civil Protection Agency said there were 40 cases of cholera in the city of Jeremie alone. He said eight people have died of cholera in Grand-Anse since the storm.
It can take from 12 hours to five days for cholera symptoms to appear after ingesting contaminated food or water, according to the World Health Organization.
The open-air cholera treatment center at Jeremie’s main hospital had no running water Monday, and at least a dozen of the new patients were under age 10.
Thiery Francois, lead doctor for the Ministry of Health at the cholera center, said he didn’t know how many new cases had been caused by the storm nationwide.
“Certainly there are cases we don’t know anything about,” he said, referring to still-isolated areas.
Earlier this year, the U.N. acknowledged its role in Haiti’s cholera problem. The disease was accidentally introduced to Haiti by peacekeepers who dumped sewage into a river after the 2010 earthquake. The outbreak has since infected hundreds of thousands of people and killed more than 9,000.
Officials at the Civil Protection Agency’s headquarters in Port-au-Prince on Monday raised the official death toll from Matthew to 372, including at least 198 deaths in Grand-Anse. But other local officials have said the toll in Grand-Anse alone tops 500. An earlier Reuters tally based on local officials put the figure at over 1,000.
An estimated 158 people died in Les Anglais, two police officers who were not authorized to talk to the media told The Associated Press.
Francis Jean, a 42-year-old farmer and taxi driver, was awaiting help after he, his wife and three daughters survived the storm but lost their roof and all their belongings.
“You can’t even explain what happened here. I’ve never seen anything like this in my life,” he said. “This town doesn’t exist anymore. There’s nothing.”