Following in the wake of tropical storm Jeanne, heavy rains and raging flood waters have caused extensive flooding in the northern area of Hispaniola Island which comprises the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The country most affected by this storm in the Caribbean was Haiti, where two days of lashing rains caused massive flooding in the northern part of the country.
According to the latest reports from the United Nations, the most affected areas are the towns of Gonaïves, Port-de-Paix, Cap Haitien and its surroundings. In Gonaïves it is estimated than 4,000 houses have been totally destroyed and some 20,000 people are homeless. All the agricultural lands, upon which the population depends for sustenance, are totally inundated.
In a recent report made by Action of Churches Together—a global alliance of churches and related agencies—the group said that it’s member-organizations in Haiti - Christian Aid (CAID), Diakonie Emergency Aid (DEA), Fédération Protestante d'Haiti (FPH), Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and Service Chrétien d'Haiti (SCH) report that the water is receding and access to Gonaïve by road is now possible. Cap Haitien is still inaccessible as a major part of the road is still under water. ACT members in Haiti have sent an assessment team to Gonaïves to contact their partners there and assess the situation. The most urgent needs reported are food, potable water, temporary shelter and medicines. ACT members, Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) and Diakonie (DEA) have already deployed emergency staff to Haiti, who are assisting ACT members in the first assessment mission.
Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) will send two water purification units by the end of the week. They will also send a water and sanitation engineer to assist the communities in the installation of the units and provide training. NCA will apply for resources from the Norwegian Government to assist ACT members in Haiti with the emergency response. Church World Service (CWS) will send a container of medical equipment.
Church of Sweden (CSA), Finchurchaid (FCA) and ACT Netherlands/ICCO have announced their commitment to supporting the forthcoming ACT appeal. The German Embassy in Haiti has also pledged support to the activities of ACT members. Based on the first assessment that is currently being finalised, the ACT CO will send Rapid Response Funds to support the initial activities.
In the Dominican Republic, the Social Service of the Churches (SSID) report that they have deployed a needs assessment team to the affected areas.
Meanwhile, nations are still trying to recover from Hurricane Ivan, which is considered the worst hurricane that has hit the Caribbean in the last 10 years, leaving a trail of devastation in at least 11 countries. Having ravaged the Caribbean for more than one week Ivan made landfall in the southern United States, causing great damage, particularly in the state of Florida.
ACT reports that its member, Christian Aid (CAID) deployed an emergency officer on last weekend to support its partners in Jamaica and Grenada to assess the needs and coordinate their efforts. He has arrived in Jamaica and is working with CAID’s partners, assessing the situation and preparing a proposal. He will visit Grenada next week.
In Grenada, the Caribbean Policy Development Center (CPDC), a Christian Aid (CAID) partner has already made an assessment of the situation. They are proposing to work under the framework established by the national and regional disaster response authorities, assisting the most impoverished parishes with basic food and temporary shelter materials. They intend also to provide tools and equipment to the communities to remove debris, clear roads and enable access to food and other services. The Caribbean Council of Churches (CCC) has made contact with the Conference of Churches of Grenada (CCG) who reports that they intend to provide post trauma counseling.
In Jamaica, according to the United Nations Disaster Assessment Coordination (UNDAC) the most affected districts are Claredon, Westmoreland, St Catherine, St Elizabeth, St Thomas, St Ann, Trelawny and Kingston. The most urgent needs are water and sanitation, food, medical supplies and building supplies. CAID partners are collecting food, water, blankets, household items and building supplies. They intend to focus their relief and rehabilitation activities in Westmoreland, Clarendom and St Thomas.
The ACT CO has not been able to contact the Cuban Council of Churches (CCC) due to a problems in the communication system. Therefore, it is not yet possible to provide an update on their activities responding to the damage caused by Hurricane Ivan.