Tropical storm Isaac: Oxfam witnesses wide-spread suffering, plans cholera prevention
Tens of thousands of people in Haiti were hit by flooding, landslides, and wind damage as tropical storm Isaac passed through the Caribbean country late Friday night.
Oxfam's Country Director, Andrew Pugh, said: "The worst hit areas are in the east and south-east of the country, but we're recording damage across the board. Isaac didn't deliver the devastating body blow we expected on Friday, but we're still seeing wide-spread suffering for its poorest people."
The picture emerging from Oxfam's emergency team assessment is a long list of minor impacts throughout the country that add up to giant setbacks for its most vulnerable citizens.
Oxfam Communications Officer Stephania Musset, said: "For thousands of families, Isaac is still a horrible ordeal. I saw bus loads of children without parents still arriving at shelters, and heard from a woman who lost her child as they ran terrified from their flooded home in the middle of the night."
The international agency continues to plan needs assessments in different parts of the country to tailor its response to needs, and ensure it is supporting government-led efforts. Oxfam is also planning a comprehensive cholera prevention push in several areas to reduce the risk of outbreaks such as those that have plagued the country since the earthquake in 2010.
Oxfam Program Director, Yolette Etienne, said: "We're worried that people without clean water are drawing from contaminated rivers. We're also seeing people staying in homes with waist-high water. If steps aren't taken now - including clean water, latrines, and health promotion - the impact of this storm could prove deadly."
Many of those worse affected by the storm are among the nearly 400,000 still living in tent camps, two and a half years after the earthquake that levelled Haiti's capital.
Oxfam Program Director, Maurepa Jeudy, said: "If you're living in a tent, it only takes a puff of wind to blow your house down. Many people who already had little once again lost all. Now they need basics such as soap, toothbrushes, sheets, and blankets, but what they really want is a lasting solution in place of more flimsy tents. This storm is a chilling reminder that Haiti's recovery has a long way to go."
Oxfam is supporting a citizen's watch group that is monitoring Haiti's reconstruction effort and calling for urgent solutions for the 390,000 people still exposed to storms like Isaac that regularly visit Haiti.