The impact of the storm has added further frustration to the many thousands still living in temporary shelter as our partners struggle with the response to the devastating scale of January’s earthquake.
Our partners in Haiti, CRS (Catholic Relief Services), who are supporting camp communities with clean water and sanitation, report that despite their best efforts to prepare for the storm many tents in the camps where they work have not been able to withstand the 75 miles per hour winds. They also expressed concern that flooding from the heavy rains is likely to contaminate water and put stress on poor sanitation systems, increasing the chances of cholera spreading into the capital Port au Prince.
The Haitian Ministry of Health has already reported an increase in the number of deaths from cholera from 337 to 442 and the number of people being treated in hospital has risen from 4,764 to more than 6,500 cases.
Our Head of Humanitarian Programmes Mike Noyes said: “We have been tracking the weather forecasts and what was being called a tropical storm twenty four hours ago, has now regained hurricane strength, adding further misery for the people of Port au Prince and other earthquake affected communities who will feel the full force of high winds and heavy rains.”
Mike continued: “Relief agencies are dealing with three disasters at the same time, the aftermath and the consequences of the earthquake, the cholera outbreak, and the impact of hurricane Tomas. We are continuing to support our partners in this latest humanitarian response.”
Catholic Relief Services had deployed specialist staff to help prepare for the approaching storm and additional plastic sheeting and ropes have been distributed to secure tents and shelters. There has also been an information campaign asking people to leave the camps to go to live with host families if they are able to.
The earthquake that hit Haiti on January 12th killed more than 250,000 people, left an estimated 300,000 injured and 1.3 million homeless.
CAFOD supporters across England and Wales raised £5 million pounds in response to our Haiti appeal, money which has been used to provide water and sanitation in camps, as well as hygiene and health education. The money has also been spent on Disaster Risk Reduction programmes and a permanent house building project.