In the wake of Hurricane Irma, Oxfam is assessing the needs of the most vulnerable people in Haiti and the Dominican Republic

By Oxfam
Intense rains cause floods at the town of Ouanaminthe, Haiti. Oxfam staff is on the ground there, preparing for the impact of Hurricane Irma. Janel Augustin

Hurricane Irma caused widespread damage overnight. Oxfam teams will immediately asses the needs of the most vulnerable people in the heaviest-hit areas, mainly in the north of both countries.

Overnight, Oxfam’s Tania Escamilla – who weathered the storm in Haiti’s second-largest city, Cap Haitien – said “we believe the worst of the hurricane has passed and people here hope to have fortunately escaped the worst”.

Oxfam teams reported heavy rain and flooding in Ouanaminthe district and in Fort Liberte city at the Dominican Republic border, and a broken bridge at the Massacre River linking the two countries. Thousands of houses have been damaged in the Dominican Republic and people displaced.

“Our main concern remains how much damage Irma’s rains and flooding caused to sanitation and water infrastructure,” Escamilla said. “We’ve heard that flooding up to a meter high in poor neighborhoods here in Haiti.”

“Many people didn’t evacuate their homes here, so there is still a risk from the rain. We are seeing a lot of trash and waste out in the flooded streets in Cap Haitien which is exactly the type of condition that heightens the risk of cholera and other diseases.”

Oxfam teams in Cap Haitien, Ouanaminthe and Gonaive, in the northern part of the country, have the necessary stock for cholera prevention.

Irma is moving north and will severely impact Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas. Oxfam is continuing to monitor the progress of Hurricane Jose following behind, which threatens more damage including to islands already wrecked by Irma. A third hurricane – Katia – is forming to threaten Veracruz in Mexico. Oxfam is prepared to assess and respond with essential supplies.

Latin America and the Caribbean are highly vulnerable to multiple recurrent hazards, aggravated by climate change, and where people are more vulnerable because of poverty and inequality. 

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