Third tropical storm in three weeks hits waterlogged Haiti

“Oxfam is providing hygiene kits, basic household items and drinking water.”
Published: 5 September 2008

A third tropical storm hit Haiti this week, further complicating efforts already underway to respond to the needs of those affected by Hurricane Gustav, said international agency, Oxfam today.

Tropical Storm Hanna hit Haiti on Thursday, unloading massive amounts of rain to the already water-saturated country. This is the third storm to hit the country in three weeks. Another storm – Ike, a category 4 hurricane – is forecasted to pass to the north of Haiti early Sunday morning.

Oxfam will provide 500 kits of hygiene and other non-food items, and 1,000 five gallon bottles of drinking water to families in Gonaives over the weekend. More aid is planned for those affected elsewhere in the country in addition to that provided after Hurricane Gustav.

The UN estimates that some 650,000 people nationwide have been affected by the storm. More than 61 people are reported to have died, the majority in the town of Gonaïves, where more than 11,000 people have sought refuge in temporary shelters.  Shelters are also filling up in the town of Ennery, just north of Gonaives.

Food, water, and basic supplies are scarce, and health and sanitation conditions are extremely concerning, as human waste is being disposed in the stagnant waters, already contaminated with carcasses of dead animals.

“The town of Gonaives has been completely devastated. The streets are lined with groups of people trying to find higher ground,” said Parnell A. Denis, Oxfam’s contact in Gonaives.  “Food supplies and water are scarce and the price of the food that’s left is rising. The morale of people staying in the shelters is so very low; I am afraid to tell them that another storm is on its way.”

Until today, water levels at the southern entrance of the town had cut off access to humanitarian convoys from the capital, Port-au-Prince; the northern entrance remains inaccessible. Oxfam is sending an assessment team to Gonaives this weekend. Additional distributions of kits and water are planned in the coming days and joint work is planned with other NGOs.

Oxfam is working with local authorities in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area to provide support for six shelters currently housing more than 1,100 people.

In the north, Oxfam has conducted assessments of the extent of the damage with local authorities and other NGOs and is ready to distribute non-food item kits.

In the Nippes department, Oxfam is following up its first response to Hurricane Gustav with the deployment of an in-depth assessment team. Last weekend, Oxfam distributed non-food item kits to 110 families, and 700 five-gallon bottles of drinking water.

All actions are being carried out in collaboration with local authorities in each area.