Haitians in Atlanta hope for the best as Matthew marches across Caribbean

Haitians in Atlanta track Hurricane Matthew

ATLANTA -- As Hurricane Matthew continues its march across the Caribbean, Haitians here in Atlanta are hoping for the best, for both their country and their livelihood.

The hurricane has already caused heavy damage and flooding in Haiti and is being blamed for at least seven deaths, including four in the Dominican Republic.

11Alive's Joe Henke spoke to local Haitians who are staying in touch with their families back home. Thankfully, for the three men 11Alive spoke with, their relatives in Haiti are safe.

But for their business and the pride they have for their home country, the damage is devastating to see.

Alex Raymond, Reginald Grand'Pierre and Frantz Bourget all say Haitians expect tropical storms, but watching reports of hurricane Matthew from a safe distance brings little relief.

"(It’s) heartache because you know I have a brother who is there,” Grand'Pierre said. “It brings back memories of the earthquake when we were here hearing the news, and you feel powerless."

The area hasn't seen a category four hurricane – and the punch it packs – in decades. The three men said Haitians haven't forgotten Hurricane Flora in 1963 which also reached category four status.

"Now we are getting a direct hit of that hurricane.” Bourget said. “The eye is coming directly through the southern peninsula of Haiti, so that is going to be humongous."

PHOTOS | Hurricane Matthew

As these men worry about their family and country first, they know their online business, Itiah coffee, could also be damaged.

Itiah proudly sells only Haitian coffee and promotes each farmer they work with. But the hurricane comes in the middle of the Caribbean island's coffee harvest, which could cause unforeseen consequences.

"We don't know for next year what effect this is going to have,” Grand'Pierre said. “Worst-case scenario, we won't be able to buy the amount of coffee we wanted to fill our needs."

With Haiti still rebuilding from the 2010 earthquake and now dealing with a monster hurricane, these men vow to continue helping the farmers they work with. Now, they want other Haitians abroad to find ways to do the same.

"I hope this time, Haitians will at least put the interest at least in of our farmers, because they're 80, 90 percent, at least, of the country,” Raymond said.

The three tell 11Alive they are getting first hand reports from several places in Haiti of extensive property damage, but also several deaths. The damage includes flooded roads and washed out bridges, which they said will make it hard for many to receive immediate help. 

(© 2016 WXIA)


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