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Tampa Haitians Worry About Health On Island After Hurricane Matthew

As the death toll continues to rise in Haiti, people in Tampa's Haitian community are still on edge. 

Since last Thursday, the Haitian Association Foundation of Tampa Bay (HAFTB) has been collecting donations of canned food, flashlights, cleaning supplies and clothes at the Louverture Cultural Center on North Florida Avenue.

Yves Morency is a doctor and member of the Haitian Association Foundation of Tampa Bay. He went to the island to help out after the 2010 earthquake. He says Haiti has more than natural disasters to deal with.

“I'm sure the numbers will rise up. There's the human disaster, because you have a current epidemic of cholera,” Morency said.  “Without irrigation, without proper sanitation, this stuff is gonna spread. So, we're just beginning to see and I'm sure the numbers will rise up.”

He says Haiti is seeing more devastation than other Caribbean countries, because Haiti has poor infrastructure. He says that if that were improved, more people in Haiti could survive natural disasters and their aftermath.

Jossette Toulme, treasurer of the Hatian Association Foundation of Tampa Bay, oversees the donations. She was born in Haiti, but has lived in Tampa since 1974

She's been watching the aftermath on TV. 

"It broke my heart," she said. "The city where my mother was born is completely gone." 

She doesn't have any family members who live there now, but many in Tampa have loved ones who are still in Haiti. 

In New Tampa, the Pradieu family watches CNN to find any updates since hurricane Matthew ripped through the island Tuesday. Guifaure Pradieu, a language teacher at Bloomingdale High School, said he had difficulty contacting relatives even before the hurricane. 

Credit Quincy Walters / WUSF News
Guifuare Pradieu (R) and son Guillermo Pradieu (L) can only wait to hear back from loved ones.

"My aunt--she's still over there. I called her. She's in good shape, thank God," he said. "But I still have friends [there]. Some of them are okay, but some of them I'm still trying to contact." 

All that's left now is to wait. 

The Haitian Association Foundation of Tampa Bay will be collecting supplies until October 22nd, then they'll be taken to the Haitian consulate in Orlando, then taken to Haiti. Visit haftb.org for more info. 

Quincy J. Walters is a junior at USF, majoring in English with a concentration in creative writing. His interest in journalism spurred from the desire to convey compelling narratives. He has written for USF’s student paper, The Oracle and is currently the videographer for Creative Pinellas. If he’s not listening to NPR, he’s probably listening to Randy Newman.
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