Red Cross teams will be distributing relief supplies today to help Haitians after Tropical Storm Isaac damaged shelters and flooded several communities.
Red Cross Emergency Response Teams (ERTs), which began assessing the effects of the storm as soon as the brunt of it passed through, reported that four camps in Port-au-Prince sustained significant damage and many others were adversely affected. On Sunday, the teams will begin distributing relief supplies such as tarps, hygiene kits, and shelter kits for approximately 2,000 families in the four camps most severely affected.
“The rains have exacerbated conditions that were poor to begin with,” said Sandrine Capelle Manuel, country representative for the American Red Cross in Haiti. “The good news is that there does not appear to be any cholera outbreak at this time.”
There is however, a risk for a spike in cholera cases as flood waters linger, which can accelerate the spread of disease. Since the cholera outbreak in 2010, the American Red Cross has committed more than $18 million to treatment and prevention of the disease, including stockpiling emergency cholera response supplies. The Haitian Red Cross continues to carry out cholera prevention activities in many communities, and has mobilized more than 2,300 volunteers to assist with distributing information and other relief supplies.
To ensure that the greatest needs are prioritized, American Red Cross teams are busy compiling information on the condition of camps in coordination with other humanitarian groups and the Haitian authorities.
“Our community response teams will be involved in the distributions once they begin,” said Manuel. “They play a vital role from the beginning – disseminating disaster information to prepare their communities – to the end, by leading response efforts.”
To date, more than 460,000 Haitians have benefited from American Red Cross disaster preparedness programs, which aim to mitigate the effects of disasters like Tropical Storm Isaac. In an ongoing effort to relocate Haitians from makeshift camps into more stable housing solutions, the American Red Cross has spent or committed more than $130 million on housing programs, including shelter construction or home repairs.
“Any disaster that Haiti faces is going to be difficult given the continuing challenges to recover from the 2010 earthquake,” said Gerald Anderson, senior director of the Haiti Assistance Program at the American Red Cross. “While our plans may evolve to respond to changing needs, we’re still just as dedicated to building safe, healthy and vibrant communities.”