Population and international relief teams are respectfully anticipating hurricane “Tomas”

by Ruth Bücker,  2010/11/05

A phantom has been haunting our media for days: “Tomas”. On its way through the Caribbean the hurricane has already caused massive damage on Saint Lucia and other islands. Unfortunately there have also been casualties.

The storm is expected to reach Haiti in the night from Friday to Saturday (CET). Ruth Bücker, our coordinator in Haiti, has asked the people in her vicinity about how they feel shortly before the arrival of the hurricane.

Due to the approaching hurricane “Tomas”, the distribution of relief goods for families taking part in our sponsorship programme, took place earlier. Photo: humedica/Irmgard Harms

“Junior, one of our humedica drivers here in Haiti, can hardly believe that I really asked this question. I asked him about his feelings regarding the approaching hurricane “Tomas”. Junior answered that he was not exactly worried. He had already tightened the guy ropes at his tent days ago. There was nothing else you could do anyway.

Which is unfortunately true. To secure his shelter and wait is all that is in his power. He can only pin down his own tent with heavy weights and anchor it to the ground as firmly as possible and then there is nothing more he can do.

Since the devastating earthquake in January, Junior has been living in a simple tent in Port-au-Prince. Such as have an estimated number of more than one million other Haitian children, women and men.

The forecasts regarding when and where “Tomas” will reach Haiti, are changing hourly. No one can be sure. Only regarding one issue everyone (also the authorities in charge) seems to agree: the consequences of the storm will be disastrous even in the best case.

The people living in tents will not be able to find shelter from the strong winds and heavy rainfalls that will certainly come down. There will probably be flooding; makeshift shelters and accommodations could fail to withstand the hurricane and be blown away.

No one even wants to consider what else could happen if in the worst case the hurricane reaches gale force 4. And neither do the humedica team members who have originally come to Haiti in order to treat people suffering from cholera. Preparations need to be taken nevertheless.

This is the case in particular for the hospital in Drouin. Since the hospital is threatened to be flooded if the rivers burst their banks, the patients need to be evacuated. Even today, drugs and medical equipment need to be transported to a safe place.

Patients are given food packages and a robust water supply system has been installed for further ill persons in order to ensure they have access to clean water.

In Port-au-Prince, too, preparations for the hurricane “Tomas” are running full speed. The humedica team has ensured that there will be sufficient food and water. From Friday morning on, normal hospital operations will stop for the time being.

Thanks to this water treatment device, the hospital in Drouin disposes of clean drinking water for patients. Photo: humedica/Ruth Bücker

The “Hospital of Hope” has already been equipped with a sufficient number of sandbags to protect it from the floods. Patients have moved to rooms on the upper floors. Families taking part in the sponsorship programme will receive further canvas and food rations today.

Due to the cases of cholera that occurred in the past week, food distributions had been limited to three days this week. But now the plan for distribution days needs to be changed once more due to the approaching storm.

People here are standing between two disasters. And all our efforts somehow seem to be surreal. Up to now, I have known scenarios like this only from disaster films, but certainly not from my own life.

We will have to wait for “Tomas” equipped with our stock of food, water and candles, and then, in the worst case, we need to be ready to act and help as soon as possible.

Junior already knew about the approaching hurricane from us. And so did all our local employees and the people taking part in our family sponsorship programmes. This is, however, not the case for the entire population.

In areas where the hurricane is expected to hit the country particularly hard, people have no idea of what is coming and they ask us why we buy so many stocks. They want to know why we are already leaving and will only return in some days.

It is terrible to wait for a natural disaster being completely helpless. But it is even more terrible that many of the people whose lives are threatened are not even informed about the storm. They will be surprised by the hurricane, without any possibility of preparing themselves for it. I do not understand how something like this can happen.

We at least are prepared for the hurricane as well as possible. Immediately after the storm, the humedica team will return to the hospital in Drouin. Up to this day, however, we can only wait, hope and pray. Just as Junior said: “What else is there I could do?“

I am sending you kind regards from Haiti and thank you for any kind of support.

Yours Ruth Bücker”

Dear friends and sponsors, please make a targeted donation in order for us to be able to help the people in Haiti also in future. Thank you very much.

      humedica e. V.
      Donation reference “Haiti cholera
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

You can also make a fast, secure and direct donation by means of sending a text message: simply send DOC to +49 8 11 90. From your total donation of 5 euros, 4.83 euros will be directly channelled into the humedica disaster relief projects.

Of course we will keep you up to date regarding the situation in Haiti. In this context we would also like to point out our social media presences, such as twitter (here, Simon Oeckenpöhler reports directly from Haiti), facebook and myspace.

Hardly arrived on our earth and there already are dangers looming: the humedica team could assist the birth of another child. Photo: humedica/Ferdinand Hofer

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