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Haiti - Humanitarian : The Red Cross ready to face Tomas
03/11/2010 12:09:05

Haiti - Humanitarian : The Red Cross ready to face Tomas
The Red Cross is activating its emergency plans in Haiti, with Hurricane Tomas now widely expected to severely affect the country with strong winds and torrential rains over the coming days with the possibility of a direct hit on Friday or Saturday.

"This is cause for serious concern," said Conrad Sauvé, Canadian Red Cross secretary general, who is in Haiti this week. "We know from recent history that Haiti is vulnerable to hurricanes and tropical storms. And this is exacerbated by the fact that hundreds of thousands of people are living in camps as a result of January's earthquake."

The Red Cross has been preparing for the threat of a hurricane since February, and is now preparing to respond to Tomas. Emergency stocks for 17,000 families are in Haiti and ready to be deployed to disaster-affected communities; supplies for a further 8,000 families have been called in from the Red Cross' regional logistics hub in Panama. Emergency response teams have also been placed on standby around the country.

As well as preparing to respond, the Red Cross has been supporting communities to prepare for hurricanes and storms. Red Cross volunteers have reached tens of thousands of people living in dozens of camps through disaster preparedness projects.

Mitigation efforts with communities have been bolstered through innovative mass media outreach. Millions of text messages have been relayed throughout the country, providing people with simple and accessible information on the steps they can take to minimize their risk. These important messages have further been relayed through weekly, national broadcasts of Radio Croix-Rouge haïtienne.

Preparations for Hurricane Tomas are occurring at the same time as the Red Cross responds to the country's cholera outbreak. A first Red Cross cholera treatment centre has been established in Arcahie, just north of Port-au-Prince. The global Red Cross network is on standby to support this operation. With Hurricane Tomas approaching, there are fears that the outbreak of cholera may be worsened by expected torrential rains.

HL/ HaitiLibre

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