Jacmel Braces for Possible Hurricane

by IRIN | IRIN
Wednesday, 3 November 2010 10:57 GMT

* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Tomas is currently classified as a Tropical Storm after battering the East Caribbean islands last weekend.  Expert analysts agree that it will probably gain intensity again and hit the Haitian coastline this Friday as a hurricane-force storm. Swiss NGO Medair is based in Jacmel in the South-East department, on the coast where Hurricane Tomas is expected to hit. Medair 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. “Thousands of people still live in camps,” said Emma Le Beau, Medair Field Communications Officer. “With Hurricane Tomas expected to hit the south coast of Haiti, we are facing another emergency situation, compounding the existing severe needs.” Over the last two days, Medair staff have been making joint preparedness plans with other local actors and authorities, including meetings with Haiti’s president, René Préval, and with UN Humanitarian Coordinator Nigel Fisher. “This storm is approaching at a time when aid agencies in Haiti are already stretched to the limit,” said Mr. Fisher. “As well as preparing for a large-scale hurricane response, we must continue to do all we can to help people across the country protect themselves against cholera—and of course to continue responding to the ongoing needs of earthquake survivors.” The Haitian government has activated its hurricane contingency plan.  This involves regular warning messages communicated to the population. As part of this plan, Medair is mobilising resources and logistics to be in position to respond to shelter needs in Jacmel in the aftermath of the storm.   Medair is implementing its own mitigation and response strategy which should ensure the safety of staff, who will remain in Jacmel throughout the hurricane. In addition, the threat of a cholera outbreak remains high throughout the South-East department.  Thankfully, Jacmel has not yet been directly affected, but if required, Medair will respond to an epidemic in coordination with other NGOs in the area. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- For Media: English-speaking Medair staff in Jacmel are available for interviews about the Medair programme and about the developing situation in Haiti. Please contact: Jacmel, Haiti:     Emma Le Beau, Field Communications Officer, +50934851631. Email: FCO-HTI(at)medair.org Switzerland (Medair HQ):     Janneke de Kruijf, Media Officer,  +41.78.6353095 Email: janneke.dekruijf(at)medair.org Jacmel is the fourth-largest city in Haiti, located 73 kilometres south-west of Port-au-Prince. Medair brings emergency relief and rehabilitation to more than three million people a year in some of the most vulnerable countries in the world–countries that are severely affected by conflicts, natural disasters, and other crises.  We currently have eight active country programmes in seven countries of operation, employing well over one thousand international and national staff. (www.medair.org) Medair’s transitional shelter programme in Haiti is made possible by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The Medair Haiti programme is also supported by Läkarmissionen, ICAP Charity Day, and by private donors. This media release was produced with resources gathered by Medair field and headquarters staff. The views expressed herein are those solely of Medair and should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of any other organisation.