Isaac a ‘horrible ordeal’ for Haiti

Tent camp in Port Au Prince, Haiti. Aid agencies are conducting a needs assessment in Haiti, after Tropical Storm Isaac flooded streets and destroyed tents over the weekend. Photo by: IOM Haiti / CC BY-NC-SA

Aid agencies are now carrying out a needs assessment in Haiti, where tent cities took a hit from Tropical Storm Isaac over the weekend.

Isaac “didn’t deliver the devastating body blow we expected,” Oxfam Country Director Andrew Pugh said in a press release. But the storm, Oxfam Communications Officer Stephania Musset said, remained a “horrible ordeal” for many families in the Caribbean nation, which is still reeling from the earthquake in 2010.

At least 400,000 people remain in Haitian camps to this day.

Floods swept the nation’s streets, prompting thousands to evacuate. A number of tents collapsed and many camps are “swamped in mud,” according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. In an interview with a radio station, Marie Alta Jean-Baptiste of Haiti’s Civil Protection Office pegged the death toll at 19. The latest situation report from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, however, puts the death toll at 13.

The storm has already left, but rains continue to cause problems in the country. Apart from more flooding and mudslides, aid agencies fear food insecurity and the possible spread of cholera.

Oxfam is planning a “comprehensive cholera prevention push in several areas.” Meanwhile, IFRC, together with the government’s water and sanitation department, has helped send water trucks, distribute water purification tablets, and promote hygiene in camps and other vulnerable areas.

Oxfam is also appealing for donations for its relief efforts.

“This storm is a chilling reminder that Haiti’s recovery has a long way to go,” Oxfam Program Director Maurepa Jeudy said.

“We are still only at the beginning of the hurricane season,” IFRC head of delegation in Haiti Alexandre Claudon said, “there is every chance that we will be facing more storms between now and the end of the year.”

The storm is now heading toward New Orleans, USA, where it is expected to make landfall Wednesday (Aug. 29), the anniversary of the Hurricane Katrina, which wreaked havoc in the city in 2005.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.

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