Haiti Braces for Storm, CRS Response Ready

Tropical Storm Emily is bearing down on Haiti with landfall expected sometime today.

Catholic Relief Services has resources in place to respond to any storm related crisis in this quake-ravaged country where 600,000 people are still living in tents and under tarps.

“The hurricane season poses a major threat to Haiti, one we have been preparing for since the first weeks after the earthquake,” said Luke King, Haiti country representative for CRS. “Historically, we know that Haiti is vulnerable to hurricanes and that even tropical storms or just heavy rain can cause serious damage in areas unaffected by the earthquake as well as in the camps, which are acutely vulnerable.”

Last year, CRS carried out assessments in at-risk camps and neighborhoods, digging drainage channels, sandbagging hills, building walls to decrease runoff, and moving the most vulnerable populations to safer locations.

“We have created an emergency response team made up of 45 people who are experts in various sectors of a response, including shelter, food security and health, and can deploy in a moment’s notice,” King said.
To prepare for storms like Emily, several samples kits have been designed and some contingency items have been stored at key locations. In Port-au-Prince, for example, CRS has delivered 5,000 shelter, hygiene, kitchen and cholera kits.

Last year, flooding from Hurricane Tomas helped spread the cholera epidemic in Haiti.

People living in camps are at a greater risk of contracting cholera during the hurricane season. Cholera is mainly spread through water, heavy rainfalls and flooding pose increase risks.

CRS has a major cholera response which started just one day after the outbreak was confirmed. The response included distribution of soap, water purification tablets and hygiene training to more than 22,000 families.

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