PORT-AU-PRINCE — As the efforts focused on responding to the needs of those affected by Hurricane Gustav, Tropical Storm Hanna descended on Haiti from the North, unloading massive amounts of rain to the already water-saturated country. This is the third storm to hit the country in 3 weeks. Oxfam International is preparing its first response of 500 non-food item kits and 1,000 5-gallon bottles of drinking water to be distributed to families in Gonaives over the weekend.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that some 650,000 people nation-wide have been affected by the storm.
More than 61 people are reported to have died, the majority in the town of Gonaï¿½ves, where more than 11,000 people have sought refuge in temporary shelters. Shelters are also filling up in the town of Ennery just north of Gonaives. Food, water, and basic supplies are scarce, and health and sanitation conditions are extremely worrisome as human waste is being disposed in the stagnant waters, already contaminated with carcasses of dead animals.
?The town of Gonaives has been completely devastated. The streets are lined with groups of people walking through the streets trying to find higher ground,? described Mr. Parnell A. Denis Oxfam?s contact on the ground in Gonaives. Food supplies and water are scarce and the price for what food is left is rising. The moral of people staying in the shelters is so very low; I am afraid to tell them that another storm is on its way?. Ike, a category 4 hurricane, is forecasted to pass to the north of Haiti early Sunday morning.
Until today, water levels at the South entrance of the town had cut off access to humanitarian convoys from Port-au-Prince; entrance from the north remains inaccessible. Oxfam International Haiti is preparing an evaluation team to travel to Gonaï¿½ves to conduct an in depth assessment of the situation. Additional distributions of kits and water to Gonaives are planned for the coming days and joint interventions are being coordinated with other NGOs.
In the west department, Oxfam is coordinating with local authorities in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area to provide support for 6 shelters currently housing more than 1,100 people.
In the North, Oxfam teams have been conducting evaluations with local authorities and other NGOs to assess the extent of the damage and are ready to distribute non-food item kits in the north.
In the Nippes department, Oxfam is following up its first response to Hurricane Gustav with the deployment of an in depth evaluation team. Last weekend, Oxfam distributed non-food item kits to 110 families, in addition to 700 5-gallon bottles of drinking water.
All actions are being carried out in collaboration with local authorities in each area.