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Red Cross Responds to Hurricane Tomas in Haiti
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By Caitlin Cobb, American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter
November 8, 2010

The American Red Cross has mobilized teams across Haiti this weekend in the wake of Hurricane Tomas. While Haiti has been spared the worst feared impacts of the storm – Tomas was upgraded to hurricane status shortly before hitting the country on Friday – it has brought heavy rains and severe flooding to parts of the country. While the threat of severe weather appears to be receding, it has not entirely passed and the Red Cross continues to advise caution.

Early reports show flooding in parts of Port-au-Prince, where some camps of earthquake survivors were evacuated. Needs have been identified among some displaced people for water, replacement tarps, blankets, sleeping mats, mosquito nets and hygiene kits. The Red Cross will be working with aid partners to meet these needs.

The Red Cross is pleased that the months of effort by teams on the ground in Haiti to prepare for hurricane season have helped protect many vulnerable people living under tarps and tents. The American Red Cross has worked directly with tens of thousands of camp residents on disaster preparedness and risk reduction since May, knowing that hurricane season would pose a threat to the population.

Anticipating that storms could wreak havoc in Haiti, the Red Cross network also pre-positioned emergency stocks for 17,000 families at 10 locations around the country so they could be quickly delivered to areas affected by the storm. These supplies include emergency shelter kits, jerry cans, hygiene kits and kitchen sets.

With all the rain from Hurricane Tomas, there are also concerns about an increased threat from cholera. The Red Cross has been working for months to educate the camp populations about health and good hygiene. These efforts have been further ramped up due to the recent cholera outbreak in Haiti.

The recent cholera outbreak has thus far been largely contained to regions north of Port-au-Prince, thanks to the tireless efforts of the Red Cross, the Haitian government and other aid organizations. However, flooding now poses a new threat from this water-borne disease.

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

Thanks to the generosity of the American people following the January earthquake, the American Red Cross anticipates having the funds necessary to respond to these emergencies. We encourage those interested in recovery efforts in Haiti to visit www.redcross.org/haiti for updates on the Red Cross response. If you wish to support the American Red Cross with its response to about 70,000 disasters each year, please visit www.redcrossbayarea.org.

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