Saturday, September 6, 2008

CARE Convoy Sets Out For Flood-Ravaged Gonaives

As Haiti continues to grapple with the aftermath of Tropical Storm Hanna, CARE is sending reinforcements to its disaster-relief team in the hardest-hit region.

While the main road from the capital to the heavily affected city of Gonaives remains cut off, humanitarian workers using an alternate route have been able to reach Gonaives in 4x4 vehicles with much-needed staff and supplies.

“Some of CARE’s Gonaives-based employees and their families face heavy losses of their own after the storm,” said CARE Haiti Country Director Sophie Perez. “By rotating in new staff with expertise in emergency response, we will strengthen our ability to attend to the needs of survivors.”

CARE is working with local authorities, international and local partner agencies, to organize a coordinated response. An urgent priority is to provide safe water supplies to residents, to avoid the risk of a secondary disaster caused by water-borne illnesses, she said. CARE is also working to bring emergency food supplies, including high-energy biscuits, to affected communities. “Our priority is always to reach the most vulnerable people, including women, children, and people living with HIV and AIDS.”

CARE and other agencies hope to send larger convoys with water purification systems, food, and other supplies in the coming days if road conditions improve. Access remains the biggest problem; though helicopters have managed to reach Gonaives, rough seas have prevented ships from sailing. Security of relief supplies remains a concern, given the risk of looting in emergency situations.

Haiti’s government doubled the estimated death toll from the storm Friday, to at least 136, mostly in Gonaives. Perez said it’s possible the numbers will continue to rise.

“After natural disasters such as Hanna, it can take some time to learn the full extent of damage, especially in remote regions where access and communication have been cut off,” said Perez.


Media Contact: Deborah Underdown, Assistant Comunications Officer (London), 07824563810

Source: Topix.Com - AlertNet.Org

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