26 Oct, Haiti: Parts of Haiti affected by Hurricane Sandy which caused heavy rains and winds, overflowing rivers and flooding homes. About 60 people were killed and 1.8 million people have been affected. Credit: MINUSTAH/Logan Abassi UN agencies and humanitarian partners are working with the Haitian Government to assist families in urgent need of food, water and shelter.
Hurricane Sandy killed more than 50 people and affected hundreds of thousands of people when it swept through Haiti on 25 October. Heavy rains and wind caused rivers to overflow and flood neighbourhoods, damaging roads and buildings, including homes, schools and hospitals.
So far, more than 27,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed by floodwater. Hundreds of thousands of people are in need of food, drinking water and shelter. Haiti is still reeling from Tropical Storm Isaac, which hit in August 2012, and the 2010 earthquake.
“The impact of the storm in Haiti is extremely severe but, unfortunately, has received little international attention,” said the Humanitarian Coordinator in Haiti, Nigel Fisher.
“Water systems have been damaged, cholera treatment facilities have been destroyed - as have many schools. Roads and bridges have been severely damaged. This is a major blow to Haiti’s reconstruction effort, while life for the most vulnerable Haitians has become even more precarious.”
People who were living in camps judged to be at risk of flooding, especially in Port au Prince, were evacuated before the storm. Now that the floodwater is receding, many of them have started returning to the camps. Nearly 3,000 of them remain in 18 hurricane shelters.
“About 1.5 million people in the most food insecure families are now at heightened risk of malnutrition in the coming months because of displacement, losses of crops and livelihoods during the storm,” said Mr. Fisher.
UN agencies and humanitarian partners are working with the Government to provide emergency aid. The World Food Programme and its partners are distributing food supplies, including high-energy biscuits. Other partners are providing drinking water, water purification and hygiene kits. Water pumps are being repaired or replaced.
“In the meantime, international partners' ability to respond has been weakened by dwindling donor financing. Support to meet both immediate humanitarian needs and recovery efforts is urgently required,” said the Humanitarian Coordinator.
Aid agencies are finding it hard to reach some communities due to impassible roads and rivers. The effects of the two major storms this year have depleted available stocks and more aid is urgently needed. OCHA is now considering an emergency revision of the 2012 humanitarian appeal for Haiti to accommodate the increased needs.
Jamaica, Cuba and the Dominican Republic were also severely affected by the storm before it travelled north to the United States. In the Dominican Republic alone, about 11,000 people have lost their homes and in Cuba, more than 2,000 schools, 370 health centres and several hospitals have been damaged.
UN agencies are working closely with local authorities, donors and emergency organizations to support national efforts, which includes a UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) request and emergency cash grant for hygiene kits, tarpaulins and other relief supplies.