Haitian looks to Portlanders after ‘horrific’ hurricane

"You cannot imagine how horrific things are over there now"

Julio Forges is in Portland for a community solutions exchange program with 350 PDX. He tells KOIN 6 News his country is in desperate need of help. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As cleanup continues following the destructive Hurricane Matthew, the death toll is expected to rise in Haiti, where it first hit.

A local man from Haiti is in Portland for a community solutions exchange program with 350 PDX. He tells KOIN 6 News his country is in desperate need of help.

A resident walks amidst damaged buildings and debris in a seaside fishing neighborhood almost completely destroyed by Hurricane Matthew, in Port Salut, Haiti, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
A resident walks amidst damaged buildings and debris in a seaside fishing neighborhood almost completely destroyed by Hurricane Matthew, in Port Salut, Haiti, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

“I am here, but my heart stays in Haiti,” Julio Forges said. “You cannot imagine how horrific things are over there now. No water, no power for people now.”

Hurricane Matthew wiped out Forges’ MOPROPS office, where his organization helped local farmers and taught children about protecting the environment.

Forges says he feels deforestation has played a role in the devastation.

“Haiti is an example of the impacts of climate change,” Bernadette Rodgers with 350 PDX, where Forges is doing his international fellowship, said.

Forges’ parents home was destroyed in the hurricane, but thankfully they survived. They’re staying with his wife and children, along with 8 others who still need shelter.

Girls hold hands as they help each other wade through a flooded street after the passing of Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)
Girls hold hands as they help each other wade through a flooded street after the passing of Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

He says his mission now is to draw attention to the need for assistance in the poverty-stricken country, where he says roads are washed out, homes are destroyed and an outbreak of cholera is a big concern.

“[As] a leader, you do not think only for your family,” Forges said. “I really encourage people to donate because we are in a really needy situation in Haiti.”

One way people can donate is through local groups that give funds directly to the people of Haiti, rather than large international relief organizations.

Forges suggests donating to the Restavek Freedom Foundation that helps children in his community. You can also donate to his MOPROPS program through 350 PDX.

“I encourage them to continue helping people because we are one in the world,” he said. “We have a lot of devastation… it will take a lot of time to stand up again.”