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Around 18,000 homes were flooded, damaged or destroyed in Haiti following Hurricane Sandy, according to the United Nations.
A ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) is returning from Haiti after two weeks of assessing the need for emergency shelter and working with partners to coordinate distributions across the country.
Liaising with Handicap International, SRT members James Webb (UK) and Josh Mohr (US) recently travelled to Fond Verrettes, an area near the Dominican Republic border, where an entire town was covered in rubble after Hurricane Sandy caused a flash flood that tore it apart.
‘The damage caused was unimaginable,’ said James. ‘The lower level of the town was under at least a foot of rubble, resulting in hundreds of homes being destroyed or damaged.’
The SRT met with members of the community who described how they had been evacuated to a local shelter when the hurricane hit but after leaving found they had no homes to return to.
‘The families have lost everything and have been through so much.’
The team also accompanied Handicap International to Babaco, a community in nearby Ganthier, which had also been hit by the Hurricane.
Low-lying communities in western Haiti that were still recovering from damage caused by Tropical Storm Isaac in August are the worst affected areas.
‘Our partnership with Handicap International has been hugely valuable,’ explained James. ‘We’ve worked with them several times since the 2010 earthquake and they had a number of boxes in storage, which together, we distributed to families already identified as vulnerable in Babaco.’
Handicap International distributed a number of items to the community, including water purification tablets, hygiene kits, and ShelterBoxes, which the team demonstrated to the families.
‘The families had been living in the local school in cramped conditions. The ShelterBox tents will provide them with somewhere to call their own while they start to rebuild their lives,’ said James.
While in the village, the SRT met with Banave Simeon, a representative for the community:
‘When the water was moving, we heard someone crying out for help. When we arrived at their home, everything was gone.’
More ShelterBoxes will continue to be distributed to displaced families by Handicap International over the coming weeks.