Almost 400,000 people still living in tents after Haiti quake face storm threat, Save the Children warns

Almost 400,000 people still living in tents more than two years after Haiti’s devastating earthquake are bracing themselves for the landfall of a huge tropical storm on Friday, Save the Children has warned.

Friday, August 24, 2012 - 10:29 Tropical Storm Isaac is forecast to hit Haiti late on Friday, by which time its winds could have strengthened to hurricane force.

The storm is expected to bring heavy rain, flash floods and mudslides, posing a serious threat to thousands of families made homeless by the enormous earthquake.

Close to 400,000 people still live in tents and makeshift shelters after the earthquake destroyed many buildings in the capital, Port-au-Prince in January 2010. Also at risk are thousands who live in hastily constructed slums in the city.

“As Isaac bears down on Haiti, thousands of families are relying on flimsy canvas to protect them from a potential hurricane,” said Lisa Laumann, Save the Children’s Country Director in Haiti. “Hurricanes can cause enormous destruction and even those in permanent buildings are not safe. It’s important that we are as ready as possible to reduce risks and to respond to disasters.”

“Families living in Haiti’s tent cities are in an extremely precarious situation. They have no-where to go to seek shelter from the storm. If the forecasts are correct, Haiti could be on the cusp of another humanitarian crisis.”

Haiti is particularly vulnerable to natural disasters and hurricanes which, as well as causing widespread destruction, can cause disruption to badly needed services such as health care and education.

Save the Children is working on the ground in Haiti, helping families recover from the earthquake and subsequent cholera outbreaks. Specialist emergency staff are currently in Port-au-Prince and are ready to launch a humanitarian response if required.