Plan deploys additional support as Haitians hold their breath for ‘Hurricane Isaac’
Plan is deploying additional support to Haiti as tropical storm Isaac continues in its path towards the island of Hispaniola shared between Haiti and the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean.
Plan staff in Haiti on the ground report serious concern as communities brace themselves for storms and likely flash floods with Isaac expected to dump up to 20 inches of rain in the country.
According to US scientific agency NOAA, Isaac is likely to gather strength and turn into a hurricane on Friday before it passes over Hispaniola – mostly covering Haiti.
Raising Isaac’s warning level to that of a hurricane means there is a significant risk to life and property. “Disaster preparedness measures will play a very critical role in this situation. All emergency systems will be put to the test,” said Maka Barry, Plan’s acting Country Director in Haiti.
“We are in constant touch with local authorities for evacuations and response to any emergency situations. Additionally, a video awareness message on protection of children in emergency situations prepared by Plan Haiti is being broadcast on the National TV and distributed on social media.”
The organization is deploying additional support to Haiti to assist Plan Haiti’s specialist staff in providing assistance to communities and local government in dealing with any eventualities.
“We have additional humanitarian experts on standby from our regional office based in Panama and international pool of experts from our emergency roster,” said Unni Krishnan, Plan’s Head of Disaster Response and Preparedness.
“One of the key lessons from recent disasters is getting right people to the right place to supplement the efforts of local communities and the government. In the case of a hurricane that often comes with sufficient prior warning, this is about deploying specialists before it strikes.”
Plan has been among the leading agencies in Haiti involved in relief and rehabilitation work after 2010 earthquake that devastated country’s capital Port au Prince, killing thousands and rendering a million people homeless.
There are concerns for some 400,000 people who are still living in temporary shelters, among them tens of thousands of children and young people. The population in camps are being advised to move into emergency shelters as a precaution.
“During emergencies and disasters children and young people are particularly vulnerable and our efforts are very much centred around their safety and welfare,” said Mr Barry. As a key aspect of building Haiti’s disaster resilience, Plan has worked closely with Haiti’s Ministry of Education to construct over 250 classrooms in Jacmel and Croix-des-Bouquets which are earthquake and hurricane resistant and designed to last up to 15 years. They were the first such government-approved designs after the devastating earthquake of 2010.
“Long term investments are required to enable communities to prepare for disasters and reduce their risks. This alone can significantly reduce the loss of human life and humanitarian impact of disaster on communities and nations,” said Mr Krishnan.
Besides Haiti, Plan is also monitoring the situation in the Dominican Republic where an alert is in force along the southern coast of the country.
Plan has been strengthening disaster risk management in its program areas since 2007 in close collaboration with local Civil Defense and government agencies. A total of 33 communities, including children and young people have so far benefited from preparedness awareness and training.
“Communities in Plan program areas are being advised to stay alert to official messages, prepare shelters and explain to children what is happening,” said Brechtje van Lith, Plan’s Country Director in the Dominican Republic. “We are advising communities to identify people or families who may require help to evacuate.”
Learn more about Plan's work in Haiti