NEW YORK - Concern Worldwide is racing against the clock to prepare vulnerable people living in camps in Port-au-Prince for the possibility that Tropical Storm Tomas will hit Haiti later this week as a category 1 hurricane. The US National Hurricane Center has issued an official hurricane warning for Jamaica, with caution of “significant threats” to Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and southern Cuba.
The humanitarian community and the Haitian Government are bracing for what could be yet another major disaster and have fully activated hurricane response contingency plans to prepare. The safety of the huge population of people living in temporary camps in Port-au-Prince is of primary concern among the aid community. UN partners have mobilized and positioned relief supplies and logistical support, and have placed emergency staff at the ready.
Concern Worldwide and NGO partners are conducting large-scale public information campaigns in the camps and tent cities—sending staff and volunteers out among communities to warn and prepare them. The Haitian government is broadcasting emergency information via radio messages, urging people to seek safer places with relatives and friends and informing them about hurricane emergency shelter options. Concern is preparing distributions of emergency shelter materials, such as tarpaulins and other relief supplies, in collaboration with international partners.
UNOCHA and the Haitian government estimate that the hurricane could affect 100,000 people if it hits Haiti. The Concern team is in close communication with international partners and Haitian government officials to identify what is needed to prepare and protect those at greatest risk if the storm hits.
Efforts to prevent the spread of the recent cholera outbreak in Haiti have strained already stretched resources among the humanitarian community and aid agencies. Concern Haiti Country Director Elke Leidel said today: “Our staff is already working at full capacity to respond to the cholera outbreak as well as to the ongoing humanitarian needs of earthquake survivors. The Haitian people have already endured so much—another disaster is unthinkable. We are making every possible effort to warn and prepare those at risk and to protect the most vulnerable.”