PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (sentinel.ht) – President Barack Obama asked Americans in the southeast U.S. to take Hurricane Matthew seriously, speaking at a press briefing Wednesday. The Commander-in-Chief also asked Americans to share their prayers and generosity with Haiti, though not commenting on weeks of dissatisfaction from Haitian-Americans triggered over the administration’s decision to deport law-abiding and hardworking Haitian nationals.
The president visited the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) where he received a briefing on the progression of Matthew, a Category 3, threatening to intensify. He said the agency had humanitarian and relief supplies positioned closed and asked for Americans to take Hurricane Matthew very seriously.
Matthew is the first major hurricane to threaten the Americas in almost a decade. The president said that people need to follow the instructions of local officials. “We anticipate that by tomorrow morning [Matthew] will already begin to have significant effect in Florida, and then has the potential to strengthen and move on up the coast during the course of the day,” he added.
After Obama’s important remarks of care for Americans he then turned to those already affected by Hurricane Matthew, asking Americans to keep their neighbors in the Caribbean in mind, particularly, Haiti. He said:
“Even as we prepare for the hurricane here at home, I want us to keep in mind that Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world, already suffering from a range of previous disasters, has been hit really hard by this storm, and we anticipate that they are going to need substantial help. There may be similar needs in places like the Bahamas. So I would ask that people who are willing to contribute and willing to help to visit the Center for International Disaster Information. The website is CIDI.org — CIDI.org. You can find out how you can help make life a little bit easier for people who didn’t have a lot to begin with and now are really getting hammered by this storm.”
President Obama’s remarks on the situation in Haiti comes just 10 days after the DHS announced it would resume deportations of Haitian nationals, including the law-abiding and hard-working, back to Haiti. The unexpected announcement that came from DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson was not received kindly by Haitian-Americans.
The DHS cited “improved conditions” in Haiti since the 2010 earthquake but many have argued that the situation in the country has become increasingly more difficult. For the Haitian Women of Miami organization, the Obama administration had betrayed the Haitian people.
On social networks, Haitian-Americans tied the administration’s announcement to Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump’s visit to Little Haiti, Miami, days prior where the Haitian-American community expressed, quite candidly, their displeasure with Obama’s hopeful successor, Hillary Clinton. The Clinton’s are held in extremely low regard among Haitians.
It deserves noting that the U.S. Navy announced it was sending three ships to assist in a humanitarian response in Haiti. These are the U.S. carrier George Washington, amphibious warship Mesa Verde, and the USNS hospitalship Comfort, which provided critical care after the 2010 earthquake.