Our Haiti team has been busy in advance of another active Atlantic Hurricane Season (June 1 to November 30) predicted by the National Weather Service. Haiti is especially prone to storm-related flooding due to ramshackle housing, hillside terrain, along with the fact that 172,000 people remain displaced in camps after the 2010 earthquake.
The team has prepositioned cholera supplies, family preparedness kits and other aid to help people in the most vulnerable areas. Each kit has enough emergency household and personal hygiene supplies to help a family of five for approximately one month. Two weeks before the onset of hurricane season, our team distributed some of these kits to partners in remote areas that are difficult to access from the capital city in times of crisis. Supplies are also at the ready in our warehouse along with plans for immediate distribution to high risk areas.
As part of our disaster preparedness efforts in Haiti, AmeriCares supports Hope for Haiti’s Emergency Preparedness and Response Program, helping the organization annually prepare and stock over 2,500 five-gallon buckets full of emergency supplies in advance of hurricane season. Our partner provides services to vulnerable people, directly benefitting more than 61,200 people in the area of Les Cayes. Haiti’s southern region is extremely vulnerable to severe weather and flooding.
Once the kits are built, they are then sub-distributed and pre-positioned in communities that are difficult to access, given their terrain and remote locations. Hope for Haiti maintains a network of over 40 health care and education sites in the Southern Department. After an emergency, kits are distributed and a rapid assessment determines if enough supplies are available on hand. Every year, Hope for Haiti and the emergency kits are able to bring relief to thousands of families in need.
The family preparedness kits include water treatment tablets, oral rehydration salts, disinfecting bleach, droppers, a water container, bandages, a bowl, toothbrushes and toothpaste, laundry detergent, body soap, a plastic bag for packing, and a Ziplock bag for keeping documents dry. These simple items help prevent water-borne illness and bring comfort to families in a time of crisis.
“Cholera is always a threat when floodwaters rise and access to sanitation and clean water decreases,” explained Julie Hard, AmeriCares Haiti Country Director. “That’s why advance preparation is so crucial.”
On October 24, 2012, Hurricane Sandy battered Haiti before striking a devastating blow to the Northeastern U.S. Our Haiti team was ready throughout the crisis, shipping emergency medicines and supplies to partners in advance of the storm, distributing family emergency kits, cholera supplies and issuing grants and other aid in the aftermath to help stricken communities.