Decatur man on the ground in Haiti shares his Hurricane Matthew experience

HUNTSVILLE, Ala.-- While there has been a lot of focus on Hurricane Matthew's impact along Florida and the east coast, the storm system devastated the Caribbean.   The impact has been heartbreaking for a country that was still recovering from the last natural disaster.

WHNT News 19 spoke with a Tennessee Valley resident who witnessed the destruction firsthand.

Harry Hames is a member of the Flint Church of Christ in Decatur. But currently, he is on the ground in Haiti, trying to make it home in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.

Mr. Hames couldn't Skype with us because they have lost internet access over there right now, but we were able to speak with him on the phone about his experience. He said the devastation is heartbreaking.

He was staying at a compound that was relatively unharmed in the storm, besides some flooding. He said during the storm all of the trees around the compound were falling, and that it's by the grace of God none fell on his hotel.

He said it's the wind that did most of the damage. As he was watching, within four hours of the storm beginning every roof around them was missing.

There are still many in Haiti who were recovering from the earthquakes back in 2010. Hames was most worried about them because many still lived in shacks, or temporary shelters that were not sturdy.

He was right to be worried. He said those areas are now destroyed.

Hames said US troops started to arrive in Haiti Thursday, bringing supplies and using helicopters to transport people to hospitals.

He said Haiti has deeply suffered, and that unfortunately he thinks recovery will take years. Hames is hoping to come back home to Alabama Saturday and start fundraising efforts at his church as soon as possible.

The UN has also started to bring food to Haiti. Hames said the biggest need right now is clean water and building materials. They need tin and any kind of supplies to start rebuilding their homes.