Mid-Michigan residents to aid in Hurricane Matthew relief effort - WNEM TV 5

Mid-Michigan residents to aid in Hurricane Matthew relief effort

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MIDLAND, MI (WNEM) -

Hurricane Matthew has made landfall on the coast of Haiti and several deaths are already being reported with the category 4 storm.

It's the first hurricane to hit Haiti in 50 years as the nation still struggles to recover from a devastating earthquake six years ago.

One local woman knows the dire situation all too well.

Mallory Neptune runs the Gift of Hope Boutique in Midland. It’s filled with items designed by women of Haiti who are part of an area job sourcing group.

The group also runs an orphanage and school that is getting hit hard by Hurricane Matthew.

Already, she and her husband are worried about their friends and family in the path of the storm.

They are now asking Mid-Michigan residents to donate to Haitian relief efforts as the hurricane could destroy everything they own.

“We're getting some preliminary reports. It's still raining, it’s still windy, so it's really hard to get out and find help. But we've lost communication with some of the cities, cell phone towers are down. We've heard entire villages are in water. Historical buildings with electrical fires, cemeteries are floating, just some massive damage,” Neptune said.

Mallery's husband, Pierre Frentz-Neptune, is from Haiti. He will be headed back next week to check on their family. 

"I almost feel guilty being up here, because I've been in a hurricane before and I know what it feels like," Pierre said. 

He's not alone.

Not far away in Bay City, Coast Guard Paul Cormier is packing and leaving first thing Wednesday to check on his sons and the 80 students from his orphanage hunkered down at the school he built and runs in Haiti. 

"From what I understand, the biggest problem right now is up-rooted trees and lots of flooding. Some of the houses are half-filled with water," Cormier said. 

Cormier was lucky he has been able to stay in contact with his sons. They told him everyone is OK as the brunt of the storm passes. Now, they are waiting for him to arrive, asses the damage and possibly rebuild. 

"I bring a little bit of knowledge from construction and it's going to be a lot of project managing and when I'm down there they feel a lot happier," Cormier said. 

Matthew is the strongest hurricane to hit Haiti since 1964. 

Governors from Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas are declaring State of Emergencies ahead of its possible strike along the east coast. 

It the storm makes landfall, it could be the most powerful hurricane to hit the United States in about a decade. 

To donate to Hurricane Matthew relief efforts, click here

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