The full extent of Hurricane Matthew’s damage on Haiti will not be certain until response teams are able to access the most affected areas, but already official and eye-witness reports confirm the most devastating effects in the south of the country.
Oxfam teams are mobilizing now to respond to local people most in need.
Port-au-Prince suffered damage to infrastructure like houses and bridges, however it is the southern tip of the country that will likely have the worst flooding and biggest humanitarian need (the Grande Anse, Nippes, Sud, and Sud-Est departments).
Jean Claude Fignole, Oxfam’s Influence Program director in Haiti said: "Our first response will concentrate on saving lives by providing safe water and hygiene kits to avoid the spread of cholera. Right now there are at least 10,000 people displaced from their homes, and in need of safe shelter, water and food.”
In the Dominican Republic, almost 22,000 people have been forced to leave their homes to stay with family and friends for safety. Media has reported four people having died since Saturday. The southern part of the country is expected to be the most affected, including the provinces of San Cristobal, Azua, Barahona, Bahoruco and Pedernales. Oxfam staff and partners will today start assessments to determine the immediate needs of affected people, especially in the area close to the Haitian border.
Carlos Arenas, Oxfam humanitarian manager in the Dominican Republic said: “We estimate that there is going to be an immediate need for safe water and shelter, but the main issue after this type of shock is the impact on the livelihoods on vulnerable people. The country is facing extreme and unpredictable weather - we just experienced a severe drought that harmed the harvest, and now extreme flooding brought about by the hurricane.”
Oxfam staff and partners in both countries are ready to respond primarily in providing safe drinking water and hygiene kits to those in greatest need, as well as repairing local water and sewage systems to prevent the spread of infections and mosquito-borne diseases like zika, chikungunya and malaria.
Hurricane Matthew remains a strong category 4 hurricane and is expected to hit eastern Cuba next. Oxfam has deployed a team to this area, which is considered highly vulnerable, and is ready to coordinate with the Cuban government on all aspects of a first emergency response and a recovery plan. Oxfam has been working for over 20 years in the area predicted to be hit hardest in Cuba and has been able to quickly set up a team to evaluate how to prepare now for the greatest risks and respond when they are realized.
Oxfam is supporting the Cuban government’s system for risk reduction and management and will work in coordination with them to ensure support reaches those who need it most.