Hurricane Tomas battered Haiti with heavy rain and strong winds over the weekend causing flooding of vital roadways that isolated towns and villages along Haiti’s coast. International Medical Corps has deployed medical teams throughout Haiti to assess health needs, provide health services and deliver critical supplies.
Most coastal villages reported muddy roads and damp conditions with occasional signs of destruction left by the winds (branches, fallen signs etc). Heavy rains have created muddy conditions for earthquake displaced Haitians in Port-au-Prince’s tent cities. Tarp distribution is needed in Petionville camp for protection from the rain and mud. Other areas throughout Port-au-Prince are still being assessed by our teams.
Severe flooding has isolated the coastal town of Leogane by shutting down vital access ways. Based on International Medical Corps’ assessments, anticipated program needs in affected communities are: increased Water/Sanitation/Hygiene (WASH) support for potable, chlorinated water, repair of damaged WASH infrastructure, primary health care services and relief item distribution including hygiene kits.
Our medical teams loaded trucks with essential supplies in Les Cayes in preparation to reach coastal towns including Leogane, Jacmel, Petit Goave and Nippes. Medical teams set off for Leogane, Jacmel and Nippes to further assess our existing clinics as well as distribute relief items in areas with minimal access to medical care, food, and water. Two International Medical Corps nurses will join interagency assessment teams led by the International Organization for Migration. Disease surveillance will continue and frequent assessments will also be implemented.
International Medical Corps mobilized Emergency Response Teams and worked to educate at-risk communities in preparation for Tomas. Additional medical supplies were also delivered at an accelerated pace to Cholera Emergency Response Teams in Artibonite, in Haiti’s northern region, so that the ongoing response to the recent cholera outbreak can continue. International Medical Corps also positioned a medical team in Les Cayes and is deploying its boat clinic to access isolated and cut-off coastal villages west of Petit Goave following the storm.
International Medical Corps is also planning to expand boat clinic operations, which currently provide primary medical care, and water and sanitation services to five isolated coastal communities west of Petit Goave, to reach these areas with vital health care and supplies. International Medical Corps is a key member of local and regional emergency planning and preparedness groups, which have been meeting since Tomas was first identified as a potential threat. We also have been training community groups, including teachers associations and Boy Scouts, for months in preparation for hurricane season as part of our ongoing disaster risk reduction work.
As the hurricane could also worsen Haiti’s cholera outbreak by flooding already contaminated water sources, spreading the outbreak further, International Medical Corps is working with donors and partners to send additional medicines and supplies to handle higher case numbers, and mobilizing doctors and nursing professionals in the event the outbreak does spread. International Medical Corps has already redeployed two full clinic medical teams to the northern areas where the cholera outbreak is most prevalent, and employed nurses and doctors to augment already stretched medical staff at hospitals and clinics in the region.