Haiti/Jacmel: After the Storm
On Friday night, Hurricane Tomas passed near Haiti with the force of a Category One Hurricane, causing strong winds, heavy rains, and flooding.
When the winds died down sufficiently and it was safe to leave shelter, the Medair team ventured into the storm-battered city of Jacmel to assess the damage and provide relief to those affected by the hurricane.
Sorting Through Possessions Again
The Medair team visited families who had crowded into churches and schools to wait for the storm to pass. Many had evacuated quickly just as the hurricane drew near, leaving their belongings behind.
When Medair visited Pinchinat Camp later that day, the team found a scene of ruin. The latrines and water supply were still functioning, but heavy winds had collapsed most of the camp's large tents and destroyed people's belongings.
"It was heartbreaking to see it," said Emma Le Beau, Medair Field Communication Officer. "I came to Haiti shortly after the earthquake. For the second time this year, I had to witness people sorting through what was left of their possessions."
Minimal Damage Overall
Although the hurricane caused extensive damage in Pinchinat Camp, on the whole, Jacmel appeared relatively undamaged.
Despite heavy flooding in parts of Haiti, the cholera epidemic that affects northern Haiti has not impacted Jacmel. Medair remains highly vigilant to the threat of a possible outbreak.
In the days ahead, the team will continue to focus on providing shelter for those most in need. "We are coordinating with the UN Cluster system and the local authorities on how to respond to the need of those made homeless yet again," said Emma.
Transitional Shelters in "Fantastic Condition"
Medair first arrived on-the-ground in Haiti within days of the devastating earthquake in January 2010. To date, the NGO has constructed 1,427 shelters, housing 8,562 people, but the needs for shelter remain high in Jacmel and across the South-East department..
Encouragingly, Medair's transitional shelters seem to have withstood the hurricane without incident.
"We assessed a random sample of our ESK transitional shelters," said Francis Woods, Country Director. "I'm pleased to report that they were all in fantastic condition. People stayed in their ESK shelters throughout the storm without any problems."
Medair will continue to assess the hurricane's impact in Jacmel and Haiti's South-East department, working in close coordination with local authorities and other humanitarian agencies.