Miami Humanitarian Documents Horrific Hurricane Damage in Haiti

Miami Beach resident Michael Capponi, one of Miami's biggest promoters of clubs, including LIV, B.E.D., and Amnesia, also founded one of the nation's premier Haitian relief organizations in 2011, a year after the Caribbean island was rocked by 7.0-magnitude earthquake. The quake killed between 100,000 and 200,000 people. Capponi, a recovered heroin addict, recruited musician Wyclef Jean and tennis player Venus Williams to help.

But sadly, Hispaniola's luck hasn't improved much in the years since. A cholera outbreak followed the quake, and now Hurricane Matthew has wreaked havoc on the island.

As of 1 p.m. today, the Associated Press reported that more than 800 people died during the storm. Though Matthew missed most of South Florida, entire Haitian towns have been reduced to bricks. UNICEF says more than 350,000 people are in need of "urgent assistance."

The minute Matthew left Haiti's shores, Capponi chartered a private plane and made a beeline for the country. He and his colleagues from his Global Empowerment Mission charity have spent the week providing as much help as they can — so far, they've been stationed in and around the city of Jeremie, which holds more than 31,000 people.

They've taken some staggering photos of the damage, and Capponi shared his photos with New Times:

Entire towns have been washed away, and the few left standing after enduring Matthew's wrath have been beaten into unrecognizable, mud-covered rubble.

Some streets appear to be full of displaced residents. Many stand in line waiting for food, water, and supplies:

New Times was not able to reach Capponi for updates on the storm's damage today. But on social media, he said the entire city of Jeremie had been leveled to the ground. (The BBC also reported today that Matthew had swept away roughly 80 percent of the city, which sat right under the storm's eyewall.)

Aid workers can't even access the town — most bridges and roads going to or from the city have been washed into the sea. The only way to get to the town right now is via helicopter, small plane, or boat.

"It's so surreal to think that not only do they get a direct hit with 145 mph winds, but to top it off there is absolutely no way of getting to the areas impacted other than by chopper or boat now," he wrote online. "This is why this work is so important. If these NGO teams weren't here to report this, who would help them?"

He then urged people to share his entire folder of photos with the rest of the world and to donate what they can to help Haiti.

The death toll in Haiti is expected to rise as aid workers and reporters begin to reach more areas the storm leveled. The U.S. Department of Defense's Southern Command office, which sits in Miami, also deployed a relief mission earlier today, in tandem with the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Coast Guard helicopters have been deployed to help land supplies in the island nation's most storm-ravaged regions.

South Florida got remarkably lucky last night — the storm appeared to cause little permanent damage from Key West all the way through Palm Beach County. But Haiti, Cuba, and now Florida's Treasure Coast did not fall under Mother Nature's good graces. The towns of Daytona Beach and St. Augustine are coping with extensive flooding this afternoon.

But regardless, those towns will certainly fare better in the storm than those in western Haiti. The nation needs all the relief it can get.

Multiple agencies are collecting supplies and donations for Haiti — you can donate both money and blood to the American Red Cross (though the organization has become pretty controversial in Haiti and has been blamed for mismanaging the 2010 earthquake recovery effort). You can also donate cash and supplies to UNICEF Haiti, OxFam International, Doctors Without Borders, Partners in Health, Roots of Development, and Care International, among other charities.

If you'd prefer to donate to some Haiti-based groups, try Konbit Mizik, the Lambi Fund of Haiti, Haiti Communitere, Sakala Haiti, the Art Creation Foundation for Children, and SowaSeed.

You can also donate directly to Capponi's Global Empowerment Mission online. If you want to donate goods such as canned food or clothing, City of Miami fire stations will collect any and all donations beginning tomorrow:

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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.