Tropical Storm Chantal, now dissipated, provided the Government of Haiti, IOM and partners the opportunity to test life-saving preparations for the upcoming Caribbean hurricane season.
On Tuesday (9/7), the day before the storm was projected to reach the island of Hispaniola, IOM carried out awareness raising activities on emergency preparedness and procedures in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) and other vulnerable areas.
In support of the Government of Haiti, IOM undertook the following measures:
- Remained in close contact with its network of disaster preparedness “vigilance committees” in 22 of the highest-risk camps;
- Contacted by telephone an additional 75 camps through its call center;
- Distributed copies of Chimen Lakay, the IOM-produced comic newspaper that targets low-literacy populations, with messages related to preparation measures, evacuation protocols and potential hazards faced during a hurricane;
- Provided logistical and technical support to Government emergency operations centers;
- Prepared emergency relief supplies for distribution;
- Supported the Government of Haiti in the preparation of emergency evacuation shelters, especially related to crucial water and sanitation support;
- Jointly with the Government, prepared its evacuation plan for 2,000 IDPs living in extremely vulnerable areas.
“This was a good opportunity to test our preparedness measures for the rest of the hurricane season. But regardless of these measures, the country’s environmental vulnerability combined with the 270,000 people remaining in camps as a result of the 2010 earthquake could create serious problems in case of a hurricane or major storm. This experience, as well as Tropical Storm Isaac and Hurricane Sandy in 2012, highlight once again the urgent need to find housing solutions for the displaced population,” says Gregoire Goodstein, IOM Chief of Mission in Haiti.
Haiti remains one of the Caribbean countries most exposed to damage during each hurricane season. A high level of deforestation over the past three decades has left the country at extreme risk of flooding and landslides.
The effects of last year’s hurricane season are still felt today. Tropical Storm Isaac in August and Hurricane Sandy in October took lives and inflicted extensive damage to homes and crops, which led to food shortages and price increases, as well as to a substantial increase in the number of cholera cases.
The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predictions for the six-month 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season forecast a 70 per cent likelihood of 13 to 20 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 7 to 11 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 6 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher).
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