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Hurricanes and HAFF

by Connie Curilla – HAFF US Administrator and Historian

This is the 37th hurricane season since I started serving with HAFF in Haiti. Twenty five of those seasons I spent at least partially in Haiti. In that time, there have been very few times HAFF's part of Haiti has been hit with more than high rivers.

I remember the first hurricane while I was living at HAFF. My parents were living in south east Florida and my father diligently tracked tropical systems by hand on paper – long before the ready availability of online hurricane trackers. At that time HAFF had no communication other than short wave radio, mail flown in once a week via Missionary Flights International (MFI) and collect phone calls when we were in larger cities.

One Tuesday I was in Cap Haitien (O'Cap) to pick up mail and cargo from MFI. Usually I didn't open my mail till I got back home. But this time I opened my parents' letters while I was still in O'Cap. My dad's letter (written Sunday and delivered by him to MFI on Monday) began, “Are you ok? Is your roof still on your house? Did any trees come down?” I had no idea what he was talking about. So I called home.

My dad: “Thank God! Are you ok? Is your roof still on your house?...”

Me: “Dad! What are you talking about? Everything is fine!”

My dad: “But..., but..., but..., the hurricane!?”

Me: “What hurricane?”

My dad: “The hurricane! I tracked a hurricane right over you! It did a lot of damage in the Dominican Republic (DR) and more in Cuba! What do you mean, what hurricane!?”

Me: “When was this hurricane?

My dad: “Friday.”

Me: “When?”

My Dad: “The eye probably passed over you about 3 in the afternoon.”

Me: “Ok. Yeah, we had some heavier wind than usual and some slightly larger twigs than usual blew off the trees, but that's it!”

HAFF is on the Central Plateau of Haiti which extends into the DR as the Central Valley. You can see on the map that any direction a hurricane might come, it must cross mountains to get to HAFF (the red pin). Thankfully, we rarely get damage from hurricanes. Sadly we don't even get much needed rain from them. Please pray this hurricane season brings rain, but no destruction.

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