Hurricane Irma, the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic, is barreling through the Caribbean, and will pass to the north of Haiti on Thursday, September 7. Our colleagues in Haiti are on high alert. “We're ready to launch a response to the hurricane, which could have disastrous consequences,” said Catherine Stubbe, director of Handicap International in Haiti.
“The hurricane is expected to cause strong winds and heavy rainfall, so the impact is likely to be very serious. Many families live in makeshift shelters, in isolated mountainous regions that are difficult to access, or along the seashore. In the event of flooding, they will have to fend for themselves until emergency services manage to reach them.”
The Category 5 storm charged towards Puerto Rico on Wednesday, setting its sights on the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Cuba. With winds of 185 mph, it is a hurricane of unprecedented intensity in the Atlantic, more powerful than Hurricane Harvey, which recently caused massive damage in Texas and Louisiana.
"According to meteorologists, Haiti's Nord, Nord-Ouest and Upper Artibonite departments are most likely to be affected," Stubbe explains. "Even if the hurricane stays off shore, violent wind and heavy rain could cause serious damage. Everyone here remembers the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew, which hit Haiti last October. The country has already been weakened by a series of disasters, and the emergency services were quickly overwhelmed.
“We are already in contact with the authorities and other NGOs in preparation for a possible response. And we’re preparing to travel to affected areas once the alert has been lifted, to assess the situation with our Haitian partners. We are also working to ensure our teams are sheltered from the hurricane and ready to help victims after the storm has passed.”
HANDICAP INTERNATIONAL IN HAITI
Present in Haiti since 2008, Handicap International intervened following Hurricane Matthew in October 2016 and during the 2010 earthquake by providing rehabilitation, logistics support, basic needs (shelter, cooking kits, etc.), psychosocial support, and other specific needs for people with disabilities and other vulnerable populations.