Hurricanes in Haiti

REUTERS/Marco Dormino/Minustah/Handout (HAITI), courtesy of alertnet.orgHurricane Ike was the fourth storm to hit Haiti in recent weeks. An estimated 650,000 people have been affected.
Haiti at breaking point

The situation

Hurricane Ike passed through Haiti on Sunday 7 September, just three days after Tropical Storm Hanna unloaded massive amounts of rain on the already water-saturated country.  This was the fourth major storm to hit the country since mid-August.

Listen: Gonaives: “Water, mud and rubble everywhere” (BBC Radio 4)

REUTERS, courtesy of alertnet.orgThe UN estimates that some 650,000 people nationwide have been affected by the storm. More than 61 people are reported to have died, the majority in the town of Gonaïves, where more than 60,000 people have sought refuge in temporary shelters.  Shelters are also filling up in the town of Ennery just north of Gonaïves.

Food, water, and basic supplies are scarce, and health and sanitation conditions are extremely concerning, as human waste is being disposed in the stagnant waters, already contaminated with carcasses of dead animals.

The town of Gonaïves has been completely devastated. The streets are lined with groups of people walking through the streets trying to find higher ground. Food supplies and water are scarce and the price of the food that’s left is rising.  The morale of people staying in the shelters is so very low; I am afraid to tell them that another storm is on its way.

Mr. Parnell A. Denis, Oxfam’s contact on the ground in Gonaïves

Oxfam’s response

OxfamOur team managed to get into Gonaives by boat a few days ago. As well as assessing needs, we managed to bring in basic relief items for immediate distribution (utensils, soap etc).

We are starting a fuller response in the Gonaives area (20,000 people), and in Nippes (3,000 people) with rapid water-sanitation support (drinking water, latrines, bathing stations), and clean-up and urgent repairs to housing. About half the population of Gonaives has been affected by flooding, sheltering in camps with no potable water and flooded latrines. We have another team currently assessing in Belle Anse, which is also only accessible by boat.

Update: 15 September 2008

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