Photo credit: Pan American Health Organization
Photo credit: Pan American Health Organization

On Oct. 4 2016, Haiti was hit by Hurricane Matthew, a category four storm – the most powerful Caribbean hurricane in nearly a decade – which devastated coastal areas in many parts of the country, with the cities of Les Cayes and Jérémie experiencing especially hard-hit.

Official figures say 2.1 million people were affected and 1.4 million were left in need of humanitarian assistance. The storm also ravaged Cuba’s eastern provinces before moving north and was considered the strongest recorded hurricane ever to hit Guantánamo.

As another record-breaking hurricane season ravages coastal areas, residents of Haiti are reminded of their own challenges — and the recovery that’s followed — one year after Hurricane Matthew devastated the island nation.

“The hurricane took all we have,” says Neyis, 51, a farmer and mother of six. Neyis lives in Ilè, a small town of about 375 people that saw widespread destruction when Matthew hit.

In just one day, her livestock were killed and her crops were depleted, destroying her livelihood.

“The hurricane battered Ilè badly. Some houses were destroyed, some crops were completely lost,” she says. “There were many mudslides. Some trees were knocked down and crushed everything in the ravine.”

Hurricane Matthew was a devastating blow, forcing more than 175,000 people from their homes and leaving 750,000 people in need of humanitarian assistance. In the months following the storm, nonprofit Mercy Corps, with the help of generous donors, provided urgent supplies like shelter kits and cash, which enabled people to purchase what they needed most while also infusing cash into local economies.

As Haiti attempts to recover from the devastating hurricane,, members of its Diaspora wait anxiously on their fate in the United States.  The Department of Homeland Security is scheduled to send nearly 60,000 Haitians back to the small island nation after their Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation expires in January 2018.

Critics argue that Haiti is in no better condition than it was a year ago to welcome an influx of people, however the Trump administration remains unchanged on their decision.

“DHS’s guidance remains unchanged for Haitians with TPS,” U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services spokesperson Sharon Scheidhauer said in a statement to the Intercept. “Beneficiaries are encouraged to prepare for their return to Haiti in the event Haiti’s designation is not extended again, including requesting updated travel documents from the government of Haiti.”

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