Tomas is teetering between hurricane, tropical storm and tropical depression status. No matter what the prefix, Haiti is in the direct path of what is shaping up to be a very violent storm. It has already claimed 12 lives elsewhere in the Caribbean and caused heavy damage. The British Red Cross put out a press release this morning warning:
Haiti is on high alert with authorities predicting the storm will hit the south-west of Haiti on Friday and may come close to a direct hit on the capital Port-au-Prince and other earthquake-affected areas on Saturday.
“This is cause for serious concern,” said Alastair Burnett, British Red Cross recovery operations manager, who is in Haiti this week. “The people of Haiti have already lived through an earthquake, fear of a cholera epidemic and now a hurricane is on its way. These people are already highly vulnerable, and of course, hundreds of thousands of people are still in camps because of January’s earthquake.” [Emphasis mine]
That latter part is particularly significant. There is simply not enough durable housing to shelter everyone. Tents that shelter hundreds of thousands of people can easily be blown away in a storm. But there is simply no place for these people to go.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the Haitian government, the UN and aid workers are doing the next best thing: distributing ropes so people can better secure their tents.
It is a scary just to think that the only thing standing between your family and the raging storm is a tent. The fact is, hundreds of thousands of people are going to be forced to ride out this storm in flimsy shelters.
I can’t imagine what these families are going through right now. If you want to help, consider these organizations.