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Port-au-Prince (July 6, 2012) – As the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season gets underway, World Vision has finalized its preparations to respond to storms in Haiti, acknowledging the island nation’s particular vulnerability to inclement weather.
The organization has pre-positioned supplied in warehouses around the country and worked with local governments to ensure that families in rural communities as well as those living in urban homes and displacement camps know how to prepare their families for an emergency.
“Preparation for summer storms is critical,” said Rachel Brumbaugh, World Vision’s operations manager in Haiti. “Deforestation has made Haiti incredibly vulnerable to hurricanes. Rain and wind on these bare hillsides can create often-deadly flooding and mudslides. Communities living in low-lying areas and on hillsides are particularly vulnerable and must know how best to prepare themselves.”
World Vision has prepositioned supplies for quick distribution across the country in the North, South, Central Plateau and West departments, and in areas most susceptible to flooding.
These supplies include tents, tarps, blankets, water purification supplies, water containers, cooking sets, hygiene kits, flashlights, mosquito nets, sleeping mats, bed sheets and baby kits. Additional supplies are stationed around Latin America as well as in the United States.
“These supplies will allow us to respond to the needs of affected communities within hours of a storm’s passing,” said Brumbaugh. “They’re a vital part of any post-hurricane response.”
World Vision is also partnering with the United Nations, the Haitian national government, and other humanitarian organizations, working through the Haitian Civil Protection Department to establish early warning, evacuation, and response plans in vulnerable communities.
The government generally identifies evacuation sites for people to move to safer locations. In addition, organizations including World Vision work within communities to help them prepare for storms by helping them identify the closest safe havens, protect their important documents, and stay informed about changes in the weather.
Even as it works with communities to prepare for hurricanes, World Vision has expressed concern about the protection of particularly vulnerable groups.
“There are still more than 400,000 people living in displacement camps following the 2010 earthquake,” says Brumbaugh. “We are deeply concerned for families, and particularly children, who are still living in temporary camps or inadequate housing. As the government implements its preparedness plan, World Vision is asking that special attention be paid to those living in the camps, particularly pregnant women and children under the age of 5.
Elsewhere in the region, World Vision has prepositioned emergency response supplies in large warehouses in Panama and Denver, as well as in smaller facilities in El Salvador, Bolivia and elsewhere. Supplies include blankets, cooking sets, tarps, tents, hygiene kits and supplies for setting up Child Friendly Spaces. Staff also have undergone emergency response training throughout Latin America in preparation for this summer’s storm season.