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Haiti - Hurricane Tomas
November 5, 2010
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) and our partners in Haiti have been closely monitoring the path of Hurricane Tomas. Partners in Port-au-Prince have reported that rivers have risen in South and South East Jacmel Departments. Driving winds of 85-mph have already damaged banana plantations, and the storms forced evacuations among the 1.3 million people displaced by January’s landmark earthquake.
A major concern is that the storm could produce flooding and mudslides such as those that affected the island in 2004 and 2008 killing several thousand people in the city of Gonaives.
PDA and our partners are also monitoring the potential effect on the recent cholera outbreak in Haiti. Cholera is spread mainly through water, and the additional rain in areas with poor sanitation could accelerate the infection rate.
Local PDA partners, through their relationships with Church World Service (CWS) and ACT Alliance, have made preparations for Tomas’ landfall. Food, aquatabs (water purification tablets), plastic sheeting/tarps, hygiene kits, and jerry-cans have been prepositioned and more are being ordered. CWS reports they were able to pre-position about 10,000 tarps and a sizeable stock of hygiene kits for immediate needs. One ACT member is preparing two schools in Jacmel for 1500 camp residents to take shelter.
Once the storm is over, our ACT partners will carry out assessments, pooling their skills and resources to do this. They already have plans underway for repair work to damaged latrines, hand basins and showers once the storm passes on Sunday. ACT expects to provide water, and to clean and pump flooded camps.
PDA received word from our mission co-worker Mark Hare. While they had gusty winds and drizzle in Hinche, there was nothing that would cause serious flooding, and the crops they had planted to help address food security issues were for the moment unaffected. There have been some cases of cholera reported in the area, so they are taking extra precautions.
Please continue to keep the people of Haiti in your prayers — that they may find relief from the many trials they have gone through in the last few months.