Posted by Karl Johnson on Nov 4, 2010
Related program: Haiti Rebuilding Center
For the past week or so our teams both on the ground and in California have been following a single Giant Caribbean powerhouse. Hint: it's not Juan Uribe. It's Tropical Storm Tomas. With a month left in hurricane season, Haitians now have to worry about a tropical storm that could become a hurricane before it makes landfall this weekend.
Tomas swept through the Carribbean late last week wreaking havoc on islands in the Lesser Antilles belt and crossing the Caribbean ocean before turning on its heels and heading Northeast toward Hispaniola. Until recently the storm had trouble organizing, but it doesn't take a hurricane or be on a direct path to cause some serious damage in Haiti. The heavy rains that will doubtless strike Haiti over the next week may cause flooding and be devastating for the thousands still in relief camps.
The Government of Haiti issued an evacuation of the camps today–with no suggestion as to where the evacuees should go. Some journalists have illustrated that there is simply no protection, but that tents would certainly collapse in the predicted 50-70 mph winds and heavy rains.
Our team has been ready for storms all season. In addition to emergency plans and backup supplies, food and fuel, the staff, volunteers and tenants at the Maison are attending safety seminars, tying down or bringing in objects that could take flight and installing latches. The ground team is following precautions released by multiple international organizations and the US Embassy. They are also prepared for the possibility of losing cell phone and internet reception for a couple days and the prospect of "hunkering down."
Once the storm passes there will be a period of recovery, and we don't know exactly how long or extensive that will be. While at the moment the Maison is battening hatches, they're also preparing to spring to help camps recover as soon as the weather calms.