Even as millions of Haitians struggle to get by one-month after the devastating earthquake struck, the first rain storm arrived in Haiti’s capital city, underscoring a warning from the international Red Cross and Red Crescent network that time is quickly running out to provide earthquake survivors with adequate transitional shelter and sanitation facilities ahead of spring rains and hurricane season which begins in June.
“We’re racing against the clock with hurricane season just around the corner,” said Jean Pierre Taschereau, a Red Cross disaster expert just back from Haiti. “Getting semi-permanent structures in place as well as trenches for sanitation latrines will be critically important.”
More than one million Haitians are now living in makeshift camps in Haiti’s capital, Port–au-Prince, while still thousands of others have sought refuge with family or friends outside the capital. Given that much of the densely populated capital city is now covered in rubble, the emergency response and longer-term recovery efforts have been further complicated making it the most challenging in recent Red Cross history.
In order to address these urgent needs, among others, delegates representing over twenty Red Cross and Red Crescent societies from around the world gathered this week in Montreal, Canada for a two-day summit to continue to coordinate a coherent and comprehensive approach in responding to Haiti’s immediate and longer-term needs.
“The challenges to quickly develop and deliver appropriate transitional shelters, and to do so prior to the start of the rainy season are immense,” said David Meltzer, senior vice president of international services with the American Red Cross. “This week’s meeting established both a commitment and process to quickly shelter tens of thousands of survivors.”
During the meeting in Montreal, Red Cross leaders explored several possible short-term solutions, including setting up as many as 300 hurricane shelters and distributing transitional shelter kits that could be enhanced with timber framing in the months to come.
As part of its overall emergency relief operation, the Red Cross has purchased over 160,000 tarps with the goal of eventually providing shelter to as many as 400,000 Haitians.
“Our needs in Haiti remain immense,” said Michaele Amédée Gédéon, president of the Haitian Red Cross Society. “A common commitment is crucial to provide survivors of this tragedy with the right conditions to rebuild a Haiti with hope and dignity for the future.”
You can help the victims of countless crises, like the recent earthquake in Haiti, around the world each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, which will provide immediate relief and long-term support through supplies, technical assistance and other support to help those in need. The American Red Cross honors donor intent. If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster, please do so at the time of your donation by mailing your donation with the designation to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013 or to your local American Red Cross chapter. Donations to the International Response Fund can be made by phone at 1-800-REDCROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish) or online at www.redcross.org.