Haiti braces for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy

Published: 24 October 2012 21:41 CET
The IFRC and Haiti Red Cross Society have been sending out warning messages using SMS.
The IFRC and Haiti Red Cross Society have been sending out warning messages using SMS.

As of yesterday, Haiti was already feeling the effects of Tropical Storm - now Hurricane, according to the US National Hurricane Centre - Sandy. Haiti has been on orange alert since Tuesday morning and authorities are asking people to stay vigilant and follow the guidelines to ensure their safety while Haiti experiences the wind and the rain brought on by the storm’s passage through the Caribbean.

This morning, a red alert was issued for the South and Southeast departments, Nippes, the Western Department, and Grand–Anse. The rest of the country remains on orange alert. Sandy is approaching Jamaica and could increase in strength overnight.

At the first sign of bad weather the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in Haiti, in partnership with the Haiti Red Cross Society, has already taken measures to ensure a rapid response to all parts of the country affected by this weather. As early as Tuesday morning the IFRC started sending out SMS messages on the Voila mobile phone network urging people to beware of strong wind and rain, flooding, and landslides. Messages warned people to stay vigilant, listen to the radio and call 733, which is the IFRC integrated voice response system. This system allows people to access information on what precautions they can take during and after a storm.

Radyo KwaWouj (the Haiti Red Cross Society radio show) will also broadcast safety and prevention messages on the air during the show today to be certain the message reaches as many people as possible.

The Red Cross sound truck will also be dispatched to different areas of the capital to spread messages to people still in camps and neighborhoods.

In terms of response mechanisms, two emergency response teams have been prepared and are ready to be deployed for rapid camp assessments and 11,000 emergency kits are also ready to be handed out to the most vulnerable and those badly affected by the severe weather brought on by the storm.

It has been only two months since Tropical Storm Isaac struck Haiti, and though Sandy will not hit the country directly, its effects will most likely affect the thousands of people still in camps in and around Port-au-Prince.

Florent Del Pinto, Deputy Country Representative and Head of Technical Movement Coordination, said: “Together with our partners at the Haiti Red Cross Society, we are ready and will remain on the alert in view of the precarious situation in the country, particularly within Port-au-Prince. Our rapid assessment teams are ready to travel to the affected area if needed.”

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