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Hope for Haiti Prepares for Matthew

Posted at 6:55 PM, Oct 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-03 18:55:04-04

NAPLES, Fla. -- People in Southwest Florida are using their resources to help our friends in the Caribbean, Monday, as Hurricane Matthew approaches.

Hope for Haiti in Naples is in full preparation mode for the storm that is expected to hit Haiti Monday night at category 4 strength.  The organization already has 50 team members in the island nation. "The streets are not very crowded. Most of the markets are closed, the stores are closed, people are getting wind of this," said Mark Hindley, Chief Operating Officer for Hope for Haiti.

Stephanie Jepsen, Chief of Donor Experience, describes the scene as eerily calm. "This is not the first time Haiti has been in the wake of a storm like this," she said.

Some in Haiti are still recovering from the 2010 earthquake and two back to back hurricanes in 2008, making this category 4 storm extremely dangerous. "What we're worried about right now is severe flash flooding and mudslides," said Jepsen. "Haiti is severely deforested so that's a major concern when you have rainfall that's expected to be anywhere from 18 to 40 inches."

Hope for Haiti has a warehouse full of basics, used to make buckets that will help a family of five for about five days after disaster. They contain dried foods, water purification tablets, medicine, toiletries and more. "It makes all the difference for a family in need," said Jepsen.

The team tells Fox 4 although it's sometimes tough to convince people a storm is actually coming, Haitians are taking Matthew seriously. However, they are confident the nation will be resilient. "Survival is in their DNA. Our role is to supplement what they can do on their own," said Hindley.