Hurricane Tomas, which had been projected to be a tropical depression, hit the island nation of St. Lucia over the weekend with the severity of a Category 1 hurricane. Due to extremely strong winds and heavy rain, bridges and homes have collapsed and floods have washed away vital roads, impeding the emergency relief process. There have been twelve deaths associated with the hurricane. A temporary medical facility set up six months earlier by International Medical Corps to reach the underserved southern part of the country was also flooded, causing vital supplies and medicines to be lost. In response, International Medical Corps’ local staff chartered a boat to reach the remote facility to assess health needs. Our teams have also begun replenishing the damaged supplies from prepositioned stock in-country and providing clean water. International Medical Corps has also deployed a rapid assessment team to the west coast of St. Lucia where there have been severe landslides, flood damage and casualties.
Following a September 2009 fire that destroyed St. Jude Hospital in St. Lucia, International Medical Corps set up the temporary medical facility at the George Odlum National Sports Stadium. The fire, which destroyed the top-floor surgical ward, also caused extensive water damage to the laboratory and pediatric ward located on the floor below. Through funding from Hess Corporation, International Medical Corps has been implementing the interim medical ward to reach the underserved population in southern St. Lucia. In addition to equipping the temporary facility with donated medicines, supplies and critical equipment, International Medical Corps is also training hospital staff to build their local capacity.
International Medical Corps is continuing to track the storm as it is currently projected to hit Haiti later this week. Our teams in Haiti are disseminating Hurricane Preparedness information to families living in vulnerable tent cities in Port-au-Prince following the earthquake and are positioning staff and supplies for emergency relief. We are simultaneously responding to the cholera outbreak in the Artibonite Region of Haiti where over 300 cholera-related deaths have already occurred.
Since its founding in 1984, International Medical Corps has delivered more than $1 billion in life-saving medical care and training to tens of millions of people in 50 countries. International Medical Corps rehabilitates devastated health care systems and helps bring them back to self-reliance.