After the storm is before the storm.

Port-au-Prince, 8 September 2017 – ‘Behind mountains are mountains’ says a popular Haitian proverb (In Creole ‘Deye mon gen mon.’), which applies perfectly to the present setting.

On National Road 6, not far from the town of Ouanaminthe, several small villages suffered significant damage. The houses of the inhabitants have been flooded and many have seen all their property lost or damaged.

Hurricane Irma has spared us most of her rage. The night was wet, yet less destructive than expected. As I write these lines UNICEF teams are on the ground in the affected areas to assess the actual damage and deriving needs in close collaboration with the Government. Already it appears that flooding is the main problem.

As hundreds of children, women and men lost their homes and found refuge in temporary shelter colleagues on the ground do their maximum to make sure they get assistance fast. The prepositioned supplies turn out to be major asset to get things moving. Yet the alert is not lifted. In the wake of Mrs Irma comes her successor…

According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) there are currently three hurricanes in the Atlantic basin, Irma, José and Katia. The last time this happened was in 2010. As Irma carries on to bring wind, storm and rainfall to the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Bahamas heavy rainfall remains possible over Haiti, the Dominican Republic and northern Cuba. Beginning late tomorrow severe hurricane conditions are expected over parts of Florida.

a UNICEF team in the direction of Ouananminthe and Fort-Liberté.

As assessments proceed in the North East and the North West of Haiti the main priorities for UNICEF are water, sanitation and hygiene promotion, including containing the risk of diarrheal diseases – such as cholera; protection for the most vulnerable children and adolescents, and psychosocial support to those who are most affected.

At the same time efforts are deployed to re-establish the education system, to avoid that the use of schools as temporary shelters delays even further the beginning of the academic school year, which had just started. Finally, to ensure that violence and abuse are prevented and addressed UNICEF supports the Government in the monitoring and reporting of issues in high risk locations, in particular in shelters.

The coming days will show what the actual impact of Irma is. This Weekend I will travel to the North to meet families and hear they stories. Stay posted!

Thank you

 

Update: While we publish this article HURRICANE Irma has weakened to a tropical storm

 

This post is also available in: French