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Oxfam assists in evacuations in Haiti as Hurricane Irma approaches

By Oxfam

As parts of Florida brace for Hurricane Irma, Oxfam and our partner organizations in the Dominican Republic and Haiti are preparing to respond.

In Haiti’s second largest city, Cap Haitien, Oxfam’s 27-person team is currently working with authorities to assist in evacuation. The government has prepared 793 temporary shelters across seven departments and, together with Oxfam and other agencies, is trying to move as many people away from the coast.

“The damage that could likely happen from the winds and storm surge would be devastating for a large part of this city and surrounding towns,” said Tania Escamilla, regional communications coordinator.

The Oxfam team is already preparing to mount emergency repairs to water and sanitation facilities, under the DINEPA division of the Ministry of Public Works. “My engineering and humanitarian colleagues tell me that although cholera cases are considered low and ‘under control,’ the disease remains their biggest concern should the storm wreck infrastructure,” said Escamilla. “We fear that half-a-million people could be affected even in the best-case scenario – or as many as 3 million in the worst.”

Escamilla said Cap Haitien has a combination of well-established houses with slums in some areas including in the coast. Haiti’s geography and environment – and poverty – make people extremely vulnerable to flooding and landslides.

In Haiti, Oxfam has moved emergency aid into five locations across the country, three of which are in northern areas that will be the most exposed to the hurricane’s impact. Already four teams, made up of five or more specialists in emergencies, have been mobilized in Cap-Haitien, Ouanaminthe, Anse-Rouge and Gonaives. Oxfam also has nine cholera response teams now prepared to deploy.

The Oxfam team in the Dominican Republic is also preparing to respond. Oxfam has worked in the Caribbean region for over 30 years and has expert teams in providing safe water and carrying out sanitation and hygiene work for those people most vulnerable after an emergency strikes. 


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