IRC assesses storm damage in Port-au-Prince camps
After Hurricane Tomas
Susana Ferreira was part of an IRC team assessing damage a day after Hurricane Tomas battered parts of Haiti still struggling to recover from January's earthquake. She took these photos in three of the camps the team visited in Port-au-Prince.
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PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI 6 Nov 2010 Three International Rescue Committee (IRC) teams are assessing conditions in 13 Port-au-Prince camps today, a day after Hurricane Tomas, now downgraded to a tropical storm, battered parts of Haiti still struggling to recover from January’s earthquake.
The IRC’s Susana Ferreira says the city is once again bustling – only many of the roads in Port-au-Prince now look like rivers.
First stop for her assessment team was a small site in the Tabarre district with 400 people. The camp was hit hard by wind and rain on Friday, but she said it was spared any major damage.
“Residents here were as prepared as they could be for Tomas,” says Ferreira. “They reinforced their tents, as well as a network of drainage canals they had dug around their dwellings earlier this year.”
Ferreira spoke to Paul Mackenson, who lives at the camp with his two daughters: “He told me his children were really scared by the whipping wind and rain, but that the storm wasn’t as bad as he thought it would be, thank God.”
Next stop was Clercine 21, a camp of 1,260 people, also in Tabarre. “There’s water everywhere here and the pastor and camp community leader, Louis Jeune Jean Benith, tells me that many of the tents were flooded,” says Ferreira.
Residents of Clercine 21 are already cleaning up and hanging their wet belongings to dry in the warm sun, on ropes that criss-cross tents throughout the settlement.
In the wake of the storm, the IRC will be prioritizing repairs to latrines, washing stations and other sanitation facilities as needed and stepping up its cholera prevention efforts as the epidemic widens. To date the outbreak that surfaced in the rural Artibonite area north of Port-au-Prince last month has killed more than 440 people and hospitalized more than 6,700 -- and the numbers continue to inch up.
The water-borne disease causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea which can result in dehydration and death within a matter of hours.
IRC teams put on hold plans to build oral rehydration kiosks in the 30 camps where we operate until Tomas passed. That project will resume immediately – along with ongoing efforts to chlorinate water sources, sanitize latrines and promote good hygiene and other protective measures. We’re also readying kits to distribute that contain aquatabs, water containers, hand washing bins and soap.
Melody Munz, the IRC’s environmental health coordinator in Haiti, says the epidemic is far from over and that it’s critical that containment and prevention efforts be scaled up in the congested and disease-prone camps in Port-au-Prince, as well as in the neglected countryside, where public health services are scarce.