Haiti facing Tomas storm as aid agencies stretched

Shelters in Haiti used by the 1.5 million homeless

A tropical storm called Tomas is nearing towards Haiti, that could turn into a hurricane according to forecasters. Storm Tomas could become a hurricane category of 3 or 4 meaning stronger winds than 178km per hour.

Alastair Burnett, British Red Cross recovery operations manager said:“This is cause for serious concern,” said. “The people of Haiti have already lived through an earthquake, fear of a cholera epidemic and now a hurricane is on its way. These people are already highly vulnerable, and of course, hundreds of thousands of people are still in camps because of January’s earthquake.”

“Although we have made extensive preparations and prepositioned stocks across the country, some crucial supplies have been badly depleted by ongoing needs, particularly the response to the ongoing cholera epidemic,” Nigel Fisher the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Haiti claimed.

“With our Haitian counterparts, we are appealing to donors, to organizations in the region and to humanitarian partners to help us get what we need in time.” Mr Fisher said there is a severe shortage if soap, traps, hygiene kits and field tents.

Following the earthquake in January which claimed 300,00 lives and made 1.5 million people homeless a cholera epidemic has broken out due to lack of drinking water and sanitation facilities. A potential storm or hurricane would have devastating effects given the existing humanitarian crisis situation. Aid agencies are already stretched to their limits as they are trying to contain the cholera outbreak amidst a shortage of aid supplies.

A spokesman for the UN Martin Nesirky claimed: “Supplies are being pre-positioned notably in Jérémie, Les Cayes, Jacmel and Léogane which are expected to experience the storm more severely”

Imogen Wall, a spokeswomen for the UN Office of Coordination has stated in a press conference that warehouses are running out of tents and ropes – things which are badly needed for the camps set up as temporary accommodation for the homeless.

This storm would be the first to affect Haiti since the 2010 earthquake, and would be highly likely to cause a bigger devastation than previous storms as the 1.5 million homeless people mostly live in tents, which would be very vulnerable to a heavy storm let alone to a potential hurricane.