Haiti: Aid groups fear cholera outbreaks in hurricane aftermath

An image taken by NASA of Hurricane Sandy's huge cloud extent over the Bahamas. Photo by: NASA GOES Project / CC BY

As Hurricane Sandy threatens the U.S. East Coast, the Caribbean islands the storm inundated with heavy rains last week are dealing with damaged infrastructure and flooded communities.

At least 65 storm-related deaths were reported across the Caribbean as of Oct. 28. Of this, 51 were from Haiti, according to The Washington Post. Sandy moved out of the region on Oct. 26 (Friday), but heavy rains persisted over the weekend.

In Haiti, a number of aid agencies have rolled out responses to assist affected families, many of which are still living in tent cities established after the earthquake in January 2010. The International Medical Corps said it prepositioned supplies, emergency kits and fuel at various sites across the country and coordinated with local government agencies.

IMC said roads in the South and Southwest departments of the countyy were badly damaged. Some bridges were swept away and the hospital in Les Cayes, a town in southwest Haiti, was flooded.

Oxfam also reported damage in the southern part of the country, where the organization said it is now preparing a campaign to prevent cholera outbreaks there. Oxfam is also supporting responding government units by providing transport, logistics assistance and equipment, according to Amelie Gauthier, an Oxfam communication officer in Haiti.

The possibility of further cholera outbreaks is a key concern of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement in Haiti as well, which said it has stockpiled supplies for up to 11,000 families across the country.

“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,” said Jean Pierre Guiteau, executive director of the Haitian Red Cross.

The International Organization for MigrationCatholic Relief Services and AmeriCares, among other aid groups, have also outlined response plans or offered assistance to the Haitian government in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

This is the second major storm to hit Haiti in the past six months. Tropical Storm Isaac swept through the country in August, and while it did not have a devastating impact on the country, aid agencies said the storm was a “horrible ordeal” for families still reeling from the 2010 earthquake.

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About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.