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Impact in Haiti: AmeriCares Team Responds to Hurricane Tomas and Cholera

  • November 9, 2010

Brian Hoyer and Michelle Jackson share news from AmeriCares relief efforts in Haiti. Hurricane Tomas and the continuing cholera outbreak have caused more suffering for Haiti’s beleaguered families. It’s also created more challenges for relief workers – demanding their attention from one side of the devastated nation to the other.

The sun came out on Sunday in Port-au-Prince. But winds and rain from Hurricane Tomas left their mark on Haiti. Flooding compounded the misery of many living in the relief camps and some roads were damaged by the heavy rains, affecting critical supply routes.  But in the week prior to the storm,  AmeriCares worked with partners, planning and mobilizing our storm preparations. 

As the storm approached, our medical aid warehouse was a hub of activity. Aid requests had come in from partners in areas affected by the earthquake and subsequently by the outbreak of cholera. By early Thursday morning, our team had organized shipments.  Relief workers from hospitals and clinics from throughout Haiti were converging on the warehouse to pick up our donations of medicines and supplies in advance of the storm.

AmeriCares just saved a lot of lives here. It [the medical aid] arrived just in time. Without this shipment, I don’t know what we would do.”
     — Dr. Douze

One of the urgent requests for supplies came from Dr. Douze at Hospital Toussaint, a small government hospital in the Artibonite region, north of Port-au-Prince.  We’ve worked with him since the earthquake and kept his hospital supplied, particularly with the cholera outbreak in the region. 

The doctor reported a sharp increase in the number of people with symptoms of what he suspected was cholera. The hospital was overwhelmed; patients lined the hallways – some of them sleeping on benches. We urgently needed to get this shipment out before the storm arrived and hampered travel.  We were concerned that the hospital would run short of critical supplies like IV solutions, rehydration salts and basic essential antibiotics if the storm cut off road access to the north.

When an exhausted Dr. Douze arrived mid-morning, he immediately joined in putting together the shipment. Phone calls to the hospital determined exact quantities.  By late afternoon the loaded truck began the five-hour trip to the hospital, hoping to make it before the storm. 

On Friday, Dr. Douze called from the hospital with an update.  Six more people were suspected to have become ill with cholera and the patients keep coming.  The storm had spared the hospital, but the rain did some damage to the main road, which was quickly repaired.  He apologized for not calling earlier; describing how they were using their generator sparingly until they could be certain of the road repair and a renewed fuel supply.   He stressed how vital the shipment had been, arriving literally as the storm hit. 

Dr. Douze went on to say that he was expressing more than simple gratitude. “ AmeriCares just saved a lot of lives here. It [the medical aid] arrived just in time. Without this shipment, I don’t know what we would do.”  

And we want to make sure we are always ready to supply lifesaving medical aid when and where it is needed by Dr. Douze and all the other dedicated doctors who care for people in Haiti or anywhere that lives hang in the balance.

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