As torrential rains from Hurricane Sandy enter their fifth day, the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement in Haiti is continuing to respond to humanitarian needs brought by the deluge.
And with roads across much of the south of the country impassable, the Red Cross is preparing to conduct assessments of the worst affected areas by air.
“The rains have not let up for four days and the forecast is for more, rivers have burst their banks, bridges are down and entire communities are flooded, the situation for people caught in this is terrible,” said Dr Jean Pierre Guiteau, Executive Director of the Haitian Red Cross.
“We are using all the resources we have available, so we are travelling by road where we can but that is not always possible. The only way to get to some areas and see the full extent of the flooding is by helicopter, so to make sure we can reach those who need help that is the option we have to take.”
Taking advantage of a break in the weather on Saturday morning, Red Cross assessment teams are heading west from Port-au-Prince by car to establish the extent of damage and needs in the worst affected areas of West, Nippes, South and Grande Anse provinces.
With large areas of the south of the country under water, there are fears that the flooding will trigger another significant rise in cholera cases.
The Red Cross has stockpiles positioned in Haiti capable of meeting the needs of up to 11,000 families, and across the country teams from the Haitian Red Cross (HRC) and other Red Cross national societies working in Haiti have been monitoring the situation and providing reports throughout four days and nights of solid rain.
As well as responding to the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, leading up to and throughout the duration of the storm the Red Cross has been helping people prepare for and withstand the effects of the weather.
Working in partnership with Digicel, more than a million SMS have been sent warning people of the coming storm, providing guidance on how to stay safe, and encouraging people to listen to the media for updates and call the free 733 Telefon Kwa Wouj line for more detailed disaster preparedness information.
At the same time, the Red Cross sound truck has visited some of the most vulnerable sites in and around Port-au-Prince to ensure the storm warnings and preparedness information reaches those who need it most.
Helping those for whom it was simply too dangerous to stay where they were, the HRC has been working alongside Haitian government agencies and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), to evacuate more than 1,100 families from 12 of the most at-risk camps in the capital.
Families have been evacuated to six emergency shelters which the HRC is helping to manage, while 38 Haitian Red Cross psycho-social support volunteers are also in attendance to help meet the practical and emotional needs of evacuees.
“Led by the Haitian Red Cross, right now all the components of the Red Cross Movement in Haiti are working together, focussed on responding to this storm and the flooding it has brought,” said Alex Claudon, country director for the International Federation of the Red Cross Red Crescent (IFRC) in Haiti. “Much has already been achieved to prepare and evacuate people, but we know there is still a lot to be done, there are a lot of people still at risk and we will keep going until this threat has past.”
For additional information, please contact : France Hurtubise +509 3170 9813
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest volunteer-based humanitarian network, reaching 150 mil¬lion people each year through its 186 member National Societies. Together, the IFRC acts before, during and after disasters and health emergencies to meet the needs and improve the lives of vulnerable people. It does so with impartiality as to nationality, race, gender, religious beliefs, class and political opinions. For more information, please visit www.ifrc.org. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr