ShelterBox, expert in international emergency shelter, is sending aid and a response team to Haiti in the wake of the most powerful Caribbean hurricane in nearly a decade.
ShelterBox already has some aid stored in Haiti and large stocks of aid in Panama, ready to assist during the hurricane season. With airports closed, some of this aid has already been dispatched from Curacao aboard the Dutch Navy vessel HMNS Holland. The aid includes water filtration equipment which will be vital given the flooding, solar lighting to assist during electricity black outs, and blankets for warmth.
The response team, including Canadian SRT Andre Bloemink, is prepared to arrive in Haiti at the end of the week as flights to Haiti resume, to assess damage and need.
Operations Team Lead Andrew Clark says, ‘The situation is still very fluid. We are still awaiting an official invitation to respond from the Haitian Government, and clarity on the most effective and safe transport routes. But we are impatient to help the people of Haiti who have yet again faced a terrifying natural disaster.’
‘The intention is that I will lead an experienced team of nine, some of whom deployed to Haiti following the quake in 2010. At present we are mobilizing on Friday, but we must await the re-opening of air routes, and the safety of our staff and volunteers is paramount.’
ShelterBox is also standing by to help other countries along Matthew’s expected course.
There have been a number of deaths in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, which together comprise the island of Hispaniola. Death tolls are expected to rise as the extent of damage emerges. In the port town of Les Cayes an estimated 70,000 people were affected by flooding, and many of the area’s insubstantial houses had lost roofs. The UN said that Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, was facing the largest humanitarian event since the earthquake in 2010.
With advance warnings at least 10,000 people were evacuated to shelters, but the UN has since reported overcrowded hospitals and fresh water shortages, with fears of waterborne disease. An estimated four million children may have been exposed to hurricane damage.
Meteorologists expect Hurricane Matthew to become less forceful as it moves on from the Bahamas, but precautions are being taken already in Florida and along the eastern seaboard of the USA. Current tracking indicates the storm may reach Maryland and New Jersey as late as noon on Sunday.