Superstorm Sandy: International Medical Corps Emergency Response
***Update: December 19, 2012— International Medical Corps has mobilized emergency response teams to the hardest hit areas of Haiti, where Superstorm Sandy caused tremendous damage. Sandy—which hit the Caribbean, U.S. and Canada at the end of October—has impacted an estimated 60 million people to date.
The storm caused at least 54 deaths in Haiti, as well as flooding and extensive damage across the island nation, where 370,000 people still live in flimsy shelter and tent camps following the 2010 earthquake. More than 200,000 people were left homeless by the storm, which damaged or destroyed 27,701 houses, 84 displacement camps and 61 cholera treatment centers. Heavy rainfall and flooding in northern parts of the country on November 8 and 9 caused an additional 11 deaths and displaced 3,400 people in the northern city of Cap-Haitien.
In the South and Southwest departments, roads are destroyed, bridges have been swept away and the main hospital in Les Cayes remains flooded. The Gray River, located on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince in the West department, overflowed taking away homes and businesses. The main road linking Haiti to the Dominican Republic is also badly damaged, making it difficult for vehicles to cross the border.
International Medical Corps’ teams in Haiti are collaborating with local government agencies to coordinate the emergency response. We have added two additional mobile medical units (MMUs) at our Les Cayes site in the south, one of the hardest hit areas, for a total of three MMUs there. Each is conducting cholera and primary health screenings and providing healthcare services and hygiene promotion. To date, we have provided approximately 2,456 medical consultations, in addition to health education for 8,025 Haitians. We are also distributing hygiene, shelter and kitchen kits to internally displaced families.
Assessments are ongoing but indicate that the primary humanitarian needs are shelter, supplies, water/sanitation/hygiene, and health, with cholera cases on the rise. One and a half million people face food insecurity, as the storm caused extensive damage to agriculture, livestock and fisheries across the country. This adds to the already precarious nutrition status of the population, particularly for children under 2 years old and pregnant women.
International Medical Corps has operated in Haiti since 2010 when our teams were on the ground treating patients within 22 hours of the earthquake. Following a comprehensive emergency response, we implemented long-term programs in Haiti including cholera treatment, primary health care, water and sanitation, and disaster preparedness. Today we are focused on training local health workers to help rebuild Haiti’s health infrastructure.
Meantime, International Medical Corps is monitoring Superstorm Sandy and its aftermath in the U.S., as well as the local and federal responses. Assessments by these agencies are ongoing; we continue to coordinate with authorities and remain on standby to respond and fill critical gaps if needed. We have also shipped 400 Google solar chargers to the Weston Police Department for distribution in southwestern Connecticut—which lost 100% of its power from Sandy—to enable first-responders to charge the devices they need to answer emergency calls.
Since its inception nearly 30 years ago, International Medical Corps’ mission has been consistent: relieve the suffering of those impacted by war, natural disaster, and disease, by delivering vital health care services and sustainable development projects that focus on training. This approach of helping people help themselves is critical to returning devastated populations to self-reliance. For more information visit: www.InternationalMedicalCorps.org. Also see us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.