Pregnant women evacuated as Haiti braces for Tomas

from Plan International
Published on 04 Nov 2010 View Original
4 November 2010: Aid is being stockpiled across the country as the people of Haiti prepare themselves for the arrival of Tomas, expected to be a category 1 hurricane by the time it hits the southern coast.

As part of its disaster preparation work, Plan has warehoused thousands of non-food supplies from first aid, hygiene kits and flashlights, to waterproof clothing and plastic sheeting, tools and rope. Plan has also working closely to support and reinforce local Civil Protection Committees in programme areas.

Evacuating pregnant women

All schools have been closed until Monday and staff have been warning people not to be tempted to take shelter in unfinished schools and other re-built buildings which may be dangerous.

An estimated 1.3 million displaced people are still living in temporary camps following January's massive earthquake. Plan has evacuated heavily pregnant women from one camp to safe houses in Croix de Bouquets but authorities have said mass evacuation is simply not an option.

First aid kits

With mountainous, deforested landscapes there is a serious risk of landslide and flash floods. Even before the earthquake, in 2008 some 800 people were killed in torrential downpours.

Plan has distributed first aid kits to trained health agents in camps and cash-for-work teams, already equipped with tools and equipment are on standby to join response efforts alongside government, Plan and other agency workers.

Preventing cholera

There are fears that heavy rain will exacerbate sanitation problems and lead to increase in cholera cases. There has already been a recent 40% spike in the number of cholera deaths in Haiti - now confirmed at 442 with more than 6,700 cases.

Experts say an increase in water and movement of people could speed up the spread.

Oumar Doumbouya Plan's water, sanitation and hygiene manager said: "People in vulnerable places are being encouraged to take shelter with friends and family if possible - but people living in such close proximity to each other is also a risk.

"We have been working hard to spread the word about how to reduce spread of cholera through simple hygiene practices and how to prepare for and protect themselves in the storm. However, this situation highlights the long-term needs throughout Haiti and the numerous challenges everyone is currently facing."