Haiti floods - personal account from MSF Medical Coordinator

What is the first thing you saw arriving in Gonaïves?

Maikéré - "It took us only 35 minutes to go from Port-au-prince to Gonaïves by helicopter. Seen from above, it was striking to see this city, stuck between the sea and the mountains, being completely flooded. There were crowds of people standing on the tops of houses.

"When we landed on the virtually only dry place in the city, I saw that there were people everywhere. Our team was already at work, taking care of people and mainly treating wounds from walls falling or collapsed roofs."

How severe is the situation in the city itself

Maikéré - "As we were driving to the health centre of Raboteau, to the west of the city, the car was ploughing through deep water. The entire city is still submerged. People were starting to walk in the streets, carrying goods or a goat - but the water level is still high. There are a lot of dead bodies and also the carcasses of cows, goats and horses. I assume there are still a lot of dead bodies under the mud and destroyed houses. They will be found as soon as the water level decreases. The smell in the streets is just unbearable. As for the survivors, you can see on their faces just how desperate they are."

How is MSF helping the population?

Maikéré - "From the medical point of view, nothing in Gonaïves is functioning. The hospital has been flooded and is full of mud. God knows what happened to the patients who were in the hospital when the waters came. We went to the City Hall, also full of mud. On the third floor, a local doctor managed to perform a delivery on a wooden table!

"MSF has now opened a health centre. Our priority is to provide basic health care. We will also take care of people with psychological traumas. But our next biggest concern is the risk of malaria, and a possible rise of cases of diarrhoea.

"All the fields have been ruined and there is no food left. So we fear there may be future malnutrition problems, particularly for children."