With early weather forecasts predicting a much busier hurricane season than last year, which lasts from June 1 to November 30, humanitarian organizations are packing up and mobilizing a new wave of aid to save the Haitian population from a new tragedy.
Mat Morgan, Communications officer of the American Red Cross, is one of those involved in disaster preventing operations in and around the capital Port-au-Prince.
Many Haitians are still living in tents or under tarps. Morgan explained that within four months of the earthquake that struck Haiti on Jan. 12 the Red Cross and other relief groups distributed tarps and tents to provide emergency shelter to most of the estimated 1.5 million people left homeless. However, challenges with land allocation mean it will be months before most of them will be able to move to more solid shelters in less crowded spaces.
“As a result, and given meteorologists’ forecasts for one of the most active hurricane seasons in years, urgent preparations are underway to prevent another disaster affecting the Haitian people left most vulnerable by the earthquake. Flash flooding and landslides are particular concerns in camps built on steep hillsides affected by deforestation,” Morgan said.
As one of the world’s most prominent aid organizations, the Red Cross is currently conducting two key training programs with Haitians living in camps. One focuses on community-based health and first aid, while the second covers disaster response. Red Cross volunteers are currently directing camp residents to secure embankments, dig drainage ditches, and mark emergency evacuation routes from the camps; as well as how to use early warning systems including flags, bullhorns, and whistles.