Haiti: Hurricane Season 2008 Emergency Appeal No. MDRHT005


GLIDE No. TC-2008-000147

This Preliminary Emergency Appeal seeks CHF 3,812,770 (USD 3,466,154 or EUR 2,360,848) in cash, kind, or services to support the Haitian National Red Cross Society to assist 10,000 families (50,000 beneficiaries) for 6 months.

CHF 300,000 (USD 272,727 or EUR 186,335) was allocated from the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to support this operation. Unearmarked funds to replenish DREF are encouraged.

Summary: On 26 August, hurricane Gustav hit Haiti with force, leaving thousands of people affected. Just as the Haitian National Red Cross Society (HNRCS) was responding to this emergency, tropical storm Hanna surprised the country on 1 September, after it unexpectedly changed its course heading towards the northern coast of Haiti. This exacerbated the effects of Gustav and left more people affected. In addition to this, hurricane Ike and tropical storm Josephine will likely affect Haiti in the coming days. Based on this situation, the National Society requested international support through an Emergency Appeal. This appeal will focus on providing an appropriate and timely response by delivering assistance and relief through the distribution of relief items, health, shelter, water and sanitation, logistics and early recovery, to lay the foundations for future risk reduction. A Field Assessment Coordination Team (FACT) has been mobilized for deployment to Haiti. In addition, Relief and Logistics Emergency Response Units (ERU) are being deployed and a Regional Intervention Team (RIT) alert has been issued.

This operation is expected to be implemented over 6 months, and will therefore be completed by 5 March, 2008; a Final Report will be made available by 5 June 2008 (three months after the end of the operation).

The situation

Hurricane Gustav, the seventh named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, made landfall on the southwest peninsula of Haiti, approximately 10 miles west of Jacmel on 26 August, 2008. Airports, sea ports and public offices were closed. On the morning of 27 August, as Gustav left Haiti, thousands of people were left affected by the heavy winds and floods and many of them were evacuated to temporary shelters. The Haitian Civil Defence has been leading assessments in the affected areas. Access to information from the affected areas outside Port au Prince has been sporadic. Assessments have been delayed by logistical challenges. On 4 September, official government figures reported 79 deaths and 7 people missing and 35 injured; 6,790 people are in emergency shelters; 3,307 houses have been destroyed; and 11,827 houses have been damaged. Numbers are likely to rise as information finds its way back to officials.

On 3 September 2008 tropical storm Hanna continued to move erratically off the North coast of Haiti. A tropical storm warning is in effect for Haiti from the Northern border with the Dominican Republic to Port au Prince. The storm caused heavy rains affecting the departments of Nord, Nord West, and especially Artibonite. The Mission des Nations Unies pour la Stabilisation en Haïti (MINUSTAH) organized an aerial assessment of Gonaives, the capital city of Artibonite, and it reported flood water reached up to three meters on some locations.

A team constituted of a Pan American Disaster Response Unit (PADRU) Disaster Management delegate, American Red Cross, a Water and Sanitation officer from the International Federation and a representative of the Haitian National Red Cross Society (HNRCS) conducted an aerial survey of the area of the Gonaives, affected by heavy flooding. It is estimated that over 20,000 houses have been flooded, in most areas of the city and to various degrees. Although the emergency search and rescue phase of the relief effort is now mostly over, the affected population is in dire need of water and food. The city is completely cut off from outside assistance as the main road leading from Port au Prince is under water and impassable. The local airport is in a similar situation and strong tidal surges make it impossible to access the area by sea. The damage is widespread and goes beyond the city. Large areas of farmland have been heavily flooded and the loss of crops will exacerbate the already precarious food security situation. The area north of Gonaives towards Haiti's northern coast is also reported flooded, but weather conditions made it impossible to assess the situation.

An Interagency meeting chaired by OCHA took place on 3 September. Results of the Red Cross air evaluation were shared. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that the nearby hospital of St.- Marc is being prepared for a wave of patients, while Medecins sans Frontieres Belgium (MSF) is flying in by helicopter to set up a field hospital to provide healthcare to 5,000 people for one month.

At the time of writing this preliminary emergency appeal, two other storms are heading to the area of the Great Antilles: hurricane Ike and tropical storm Josephine.