Tropical Storm Isaac has yet to make landfall in Hispaniola, but many are already concerned it could turn into a hurricane — and wreak havoc in Haiti, a country that has yet to recover from a devastating earthquake.
Several nongovernmental organizations in Haiti are already preparing for the storm. World Vision, for instance, has prepositioned emergency supplies such as blankets, water, cooking sets, hygiene kits, mosquito nets and bed sheets.
“In the Caribbean, at this time of year we are constantly on alert with an eye towards the weather,” Claudio Doñe, World Vision national director in the Dominican Republic, said in a press release.
The preparations are a must, especially for a country still reeling from the earthquake in 2010. More than 400,000 Haitians continue to live in camps — despite the billions of dollars reportedly spent on reconstruction efforts — and are vulnerable to disasters.
The majority of the population also lives in coastal areas, World Vision Emergency Communications Manager Lauren Fisher told Devex in an email. Residents in such areas are more heavily affected by storms and hurricanes.
Further, the Caribbean country is at high risk of landslides. “Even a moderate bit of rain can become a problem,” Fisher said.
The United Nations has scaled down its funding appeal for Haiti, which now stands at $128 million. Of these, some $35 million is requested for camp management and shelter. But the sector remains underfunded at 31 percent, according to Aug. 24 data from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
There are other needs that have to be addressed in Haiti, including security, food, access to clean water and sanitation. But at a time when a storm is threatening to bring heavy rains and strong winds, a decent, sturdy home not made of “plastic sheets and sticks” couldn’t have been more needed.
If Tropical Storm Isaac continues on its projected path and strength, “it will be the first major storm to directly impact Haiti following the 2010 earthquake,” Fisher said. Tropical Storm Emily threatened to make landfall in 2011, but “weakened before hitting western Haiti,” according to CNN.
Meanwhile, fears about the storm have prompted U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonović to cancel his trip to the Caribbean country. He was set to discuss human rights issues with the government, U.N. officials, the diplomatic corps and civil society representatives, according to a press release.
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