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Student was in Haiti during hurricane; events planned November 7 and 8 to help with recovery

ISSUED: 2 November 2016
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — When Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti in early October, a Shepherd University Intensive English Language student was in the country visiting her relatives. Guirlene Altidor, of Berkeley Springs, who rode out Matthew in her hometown of Port-Au-Prince, is hoping an upcoming American Red Cross blood drive and a bake sale at Shepherd will help those in Haiti impacted by the storm.

Altidor was on a previously planned September 25-October 5 trip to Haiti to visit her family and friends when Matthew hit the island. She was visiting a friend in the mountains on Sunday, October 2, and was unaware the hurricane was approaching.

“I stayed very late, then I came back from the mountain and it started raining a little bit,” she said. “I thought it was going to rain and stop, but it did not. It kept raining. On Monday night the windows kept rattling. I heard the wind. It was very loud.”

Altidor’s parents live in Léogâne, one of the towns hit hardest by the storm.

“They got flooded, but not too much,” she said. “I kept calling people like my parents to tell them to be careful and to take care of papers like birth certificates and IDs. After that there was no electricity and I lost the charge (on my cell phone).”

On Tuesday morning, the electricity came on for two or three hours, so Altidor was able to charge her phone and call more people. She has friends who live in the hard-hit town of Les Cayes, just east of where Matthew made landfall with wind gusts of about 107 miles per hour. She was unable to reach her friends right away but eventually found out they are okay.

“Haiti can’t handle a big rain,” Altidor said. “Even if it’s not a hurricane, it gets flooded. It was scary because when the wind came you didn’t know what was going to happen. The trees can fall down on you, things like that.”

Altidor was scheduled to leave Haiti on Wednesday, October 5, but was unable to fly out until Saturday the 8th. She is glad she made it home safely and hopes the blood drive and bake sale will help those in Haiti who were affected by Matthew.

“I want to thank God nothing happened to me and to my family,” she said. “I’m going to pray for the people who were hit by the hurricane, and I want to thank Shepherd University for the event to raise money for Haiti.”

Alpha Phi Omega, the International Student Union, and Office of Student Engagement are sponsoring the bake sale on Monday, November 7, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. in the Student Center Ram’s Den to raise money for Haiti that will donated through the American Red Cross. A Red Cross Blood Drive is planned for Tuesday, November 8, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. in the Student Center Storer Ballroom.

Blood drive appointments can be scheduled online by visiting Both events are open to the public. For more information, contact Maria Skowronski at or Joseph Bochinski at

Listen to the interview HERE.

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