As Haiti reeled from the massive destruction of Hurricane Matthew, NRECA International quickly established a relief fund to aid the devastated electric cooperative it helped set up.
The Category 4 storm made landfall early Oct. 4 on the country’s southern peninsula, slamming into the territory of Cooperative Electrique de l’Arrondisement des Côteaux (CEAC). The storm brought maximum sustained winds of 145 mph. Forecasters warned that up to 40 inches of rain was possible in some spots.
There was no immediate word on injuries or damage; the co-op general manager and NRECA International staff had earlier evacuated to the Haitian capital of Port-Au-Prince.
NRECA International quickly set up a relief fund to help the co-op restore power, and the community to rebuild. Donations can be made via NRECA International’s website. Updates to restoration efforts will be posted there, as well as to social media.
Established in 2013, CEAC first turned the lights on in September 2015. Numerous co-op linemen from the United States went to Haiti to help build the infrastructure for CEAC, which serves 1,000 meters and has 1,200 registered members in Côteaux, Port-a-Piment, and Roche-a-Bateau.
“We have not received any substantial reports from our team in Haiti since the early hours of Tuesday morning when Hurricane Matthew made landfall, but we don’t expect good news,” said Dan Waddle, NRECA International senior vice president.
“Our team is already mobilizing to support CEAC member-owners to determine the extent of the damage, to restore power and to help rebuild the community in the aftermath of Matthew.”
The devastation was heartbreaking to co-ops that worked so hard building the CEAC system. Many of the volunteers became close to residents while in Haiti.
CoServ in Corinth, Texas, tweeted, “After a @NRECAintl trip to Haiti last year, the small town of Port-a-Piment is very near & dear to our CoServ hearts. Praying for them today.”
At Nolin RECC in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, Vince Heuser, vice president, system operations, said, “Nolin will help any way we can. We’ll be ready.”
It’s been barely a year since CEAC first turned on the lights in Côteaux. At ceremonies Sept. 10 and 18, 2015, residents cheered as streetlights glowed for the first time.
“There was a definite excitement in the air and people feel a connection to this project as we have nearly 800 members of the cooperative throughout the three towns,” Dana Brosig, NRECA International project manager, said at the time.
Michael W. Kahn is a staff writer at NRECA.