Volunteers from across the island sorted donations bound for Haiti and Cuba as quickly as they could Thursday afternoon. The relief effort is seeking donations of baby items, hygiene products and other emergency necessities. Organizers plan to ship the supplies to Haiti early next week. More than 100 people have died in Haiti since Hurricane Matthew slammed the country with extreme winds and several feet of rain. - Photo: Taneos Ramsay

Volunteers in Cayman spent Thursday unloading and sorting donations bound for Haiti and Cuba at the Saxon office on Eastern Avenue in George Town.

The effort was organized quickly as the Category 4 storm brought extreme winds and more than 3 feet of rain to some parts of Haiti, which is still recovering from a massive earthquake in 2010 and subsequent cholera epidemic. The Associated Press reported Thursday afternoon that at least 108 people have died from the storm in Haiti.

Matthew Leslie of the Cayman Islands Brewery, who is heading the relief effort, said, “We need to count our blessings. It could have been us. Being from the Caribbean, we are more than neighbors, we are brothers and sisters.”

He said he has been coordinating with relief agencies and orphanages in Haiti, along with the U.S. military that passed through Cayman to take supplies to Hispaniola.

Mr. Leslie said Cayman Islands Brewery, Saxon Insurance and the Cayman Islands government are heading the effort to collect supplies here, and that many companies are collecting donations at their own offices.

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He said the groups are looking for donations of batteries, candles, nonperishable food, clothes, baby item, including diapers and formula, and hygiene products. Donations may be dropped off at the Saxon office on Eastern Avenue, across from Uncle Bill’s.

Mr. Leslie said he is working with government to be able to use a Cayman Airways plane to send the supplies to Haiti. He said some supplies will also go to eastern Cuba, which was also hit hard by the Category 4 storm.

A view of houses in Les Cayes, Haiti, on Thursday. Hurricane Matthew caused devastation across the country. - Photo: AP
A view of houses in Les Cayes, Haiti, on Thursday. Hurricane Matthew caused devastation across the country. – Photo: AP

Jo Dunne, who began helping Mr. Leslie Wednesday night, had been in the Saxon office Thursday since 7 a.m. She called the experience “humbling.”

“I went to pick up clothing donations from a family last night. It was clear that they did not have a lot, but they gave a lot,” she said while sorting donations Thursday afternoon.

Tori Croft stopped by at lunchtime Thursday to drop off baby supplies and hygiene products.

A satellite image from the NOAA shows Hurricane Matthew on Saturday, Oct. 7.
A satellite image from the NOAA shows Hurricane Matthew on Saturday, Oct. 7.

“I am just happy to do my bit,” she said while carrying in her donations.

A joint task force of the U.S. Marines and Army has started moving into Haiti with nine helicopters to help move supplies from Port-au-Prince to hard-hit areas that are still difficult to access by road. Joint Task Force Bravo passed through Cayman this week on their way to Hispaniola.

The Associated Press reported that several parts of Haiti have been particularly hard hit and that the department of Grand-Anse, in the tip of country’s southwest peninsula, was still cut off from roads and communications as of Thursday afternoon. The country’s Civil Protection Agency said 38 deaths were already confirmed by Grand-Anse, according to the AP.

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The NOAA's coastal watches, warnings and five-day forecast cone, as of 8 a.m. Sunday.
The NOAA’s coastal watches, warnings and five-day forecast cone, as of 8 a.m. Sunday.
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