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Red Cross Prepares for Tropical Storm Tomas While Continuing Response to Cholera Outbreak in Haiti
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By Caitlin Cobb, American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter
November 4, 2010

The American Red Cross is making final preparations in Haiti for the arrival of Tropical Storm Tomas, which is expected to inflict heavy winds and rain on the island’s already vulnerable population – including hundreds of thousands of people living under tarps and tents since the earthquake of January 12.

As of Thursday, November 4, a tropical storm warning and hurricane watch has been issued for Haiti. On the current forecast track, Tomas is expected to approach Haiti on Friday.

The Red Cross is pursuing two types of activities before the arrival of Tomas. The first is disaster preparedness and risk reduction – direct work with the vulnerable camp populations. The second involves the pre-positioning of resources and emergency personnel for a rapid response after the storm.

In preparation for a rapid response after the storm, the Red Cross network (including the American Red Cross and international partners) has pre-positioned emergency stocks for 17,000 families at 10 locations around the country so they can quickly be delivered to areas affected by the storm. These resources include emergency shelter kits, jerry cans, hygiene kits and kitchen sets.

Red Cross emergency response teams are on standby in Jacmel, Leogane and Port-au-Prince, prepared to provide immediate assistance after the storm. American Red Cross personnel trained in health, shelter, water/sanitation, logistics and disaster response make up several of these teams. Response teams will both assess needs immediately after the storm and help coordinate the Red Cross long-term response.

The response to Tomas is complicated by the fact that it is one of three emergencies that the Red Cross is simultaneously responding to in Haiti. The island nation has also recently experienced a cholera outbreak, and the Red Cross is involved in ongoing recovery work following the devastating January earthquake.

The Red Cross response to the cholera outbreak has included provision of emergency personnel, supplies, chlorine to purify water and other support in the affected regions. Responding to requests from the Haitian Ministry of Health, the American Red Cross and its partners have flown urgently needed supplies into Haiti within the past week to bolster the cholera response.

The global Red Cross network has established a cholera treatment centre in Arcahie, northwest of Port-au-Prince, and plans two additional cholera treatment centers in other parts of the country.

Despite the multiple challenges currently facing Haiti, the American Red Cross anticipates having the funds necessary to respond to these latest emergencies, thanks to the generosity of the American people. We encourage those interested in recovery efforts in Haiti to visit www.redcross.org/haiti for updates on the Red Cross response.

Anyone wishing to support the American Red Cross in its work including the 70,000 disasters it responds to each year, should visit www.redcrossbayarea.org for more information.

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