Haiti - Tomas : In visit to Jacmel, René Préval disconnected from reality
At the head of a delegation composed of Joanas Gué, Minister of Agriculture, Alex Larsen Minister of Public Health, Mario Andresol Director General of police and several other government figures, the head of state visited Jacmel, in the context of a national tour on the preparation of the emergency plan to protect the people of the cyclone (1) Tomas.
Questioned by journalists on the situation of victims living under tents in the camps of Jacmel, the most vulnerable area, René Préval has refused categorically to answer this question, leaving it to Ronald Andris, Mayor-assistant of Jacmel... This last however was unable to provide a satisfactory answer to the Journalists.
A meeting was held in Cap Lamandou Hôte, with authorities of four depatments of the Grand South of Haiti's most vulnerable, including Nippes, Grande Anse, south-east and south, on strategies to adopt face to the cyclone Tomas. At this meeting, the head of state has expressed the concern of his government and called for mobilizing the population to limit loss of life.
President Preval declared that "Hurricane Tomas intensifies each hour, and could cause much damage in Haiti as Hurricane Hazel in 1957. It is necessary that the population has access to information," he said.
These remarks are not only wrong, but unnecessarily alarmist and without any relationship with the current threat. Irresponsible statements which only reinforce the concern, already large, in the population. The Head of State makes a mistake on the year, Hurricane (1) Hazel struck Haiti October 11, 1954 and not 1957, was the worst hurricane of season, in the North Atlantic. It was a Category 4 hurricane that killed over 1,000 people in Haiti. Tomas is currently a tropical storm with a probability of becoming a Category 1 hurricane. Moreover, he argues that Tomas Storm intensifies each hour, a pure invention at the time of his statement, which is not based on scientfic observation.
Finally, it is almost laughable to hear the head of state declaring "Let the people have access to information" while the government has not issued (At the time this article was written) any new assessment since Saturday on the evolution of the cholera epidemic in the country because of public holidays [!], this is, despite the maximum health warning level (the holidays seem to take precedence over the government's crisis and information to the population).
President Préval has required departmental authorities of public administration in the south-east starting the process of evacuation of areas at risk, vulnerable people, requesting the collaboration of all the sectors for better sensitizing the population.
Germaine Pierre-Louis, the regional president of the Red Cross said that an assessment has been made in various temporary shelters that can accommodate people living in camps. A structure was also developed with the various NGOs working in the department of South-East to face the cyclone Tomas and health supplies and food kits are available in all communes in the department.
Note that while local authorities speak of temporary shelters, almost all schools usually used in these situations have been affected by the earthquake and working in tents, and can not be used by the people... After this visit, the people, especially in the camps is far from being reassured about its fate.
(1)A cyclone is a depression which is characterized by its rotation. In the Northern hemisphere, they turn in the opposite direction of the southern hemisphere. What characterizes it is its eye, where pressure is lowest. It is the heart of depression. A hurricane is exactly the same as a cyclone. It's just its name in the North Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and eastern North Pacific. Cyclone or hurricane are synonymous.
HL/ Claudy Bélizaire
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