Save the Children Prepares for Tropical Storm Tomas as Agency Continues to Respond to Ongoing Post-Quake Needs, Cholera Outbreak

Save the Children Prepares for Tropical Storm Tomas as Agency Continues to Respond to Ongoing Post-Quake Needs, Cholera Outbreak

Media Contacts:
Eileen Burke 203.221.4233 (W), 203.216.0718 (M)
Wendy Christian 203.221.3767 (W), 203.465.8010 (M)
Elysia Nisan +509.3701.4238 (in Port-au-Prince)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Nov. 4, 2010) — Save the Children will assist children and families facing a third life-threatening risk in Haiti in less than a year: the potential disaster brought on by Tropical Storm Tomas.

Tomas, which is expected to pass near or over Haiti early Friday morning, is expected to bring up to 15 inches of rain and strong winds, imperiling the more than 1.3 million homeless people, nearly half of them children, still living in precarious shelters.

Save the Children has sent additional supplies to Jacmel and is preparing to distribute non-food items once the storm has passed. The agency — which quickly responded to the January 12 earthquake, establishing health clinics, distributing food, water, medical and other supplies, and setting up nutrition, education and protection programs — is also conducting prevention programs and providing health services in its clinics to address the recent outbreak of cholera and prevent its spread. The agency now has response teams on standby in preparation for new emergency efforts brought on by Tomas.

Families have been advised by the government to move from camps to find shelter with friends and relatives or in safer buildings, if they can be identified. This means there will be significant movement of people between areas, increasing the risk that children will be separated from their families and that diseases such as cholera may have greater opportunity to spread.

"The humanitarian crisis in Haiti is already one of the worst in the world, and children are facing a triple threat. Once again we have to increase assistance — and increase it fast. The storm has the potential to destroy tents and flood camps, wrecking possessions and leaving families more exposed and homeless once again,” said Gary Shaye, country director of Save the Children in Haiti. "There are more than half a million incredibly vulnerable children living in camps in Haiti. They have already had to deal with the fear of losing their homes and members of their families. Now they could be facing those fears again.”

Save the Children is working in the camps in Port-au-Prince and in two of areas that could be worst hit by the tropical storm — Léogâne, the epicenter of the earthquake, and Jacmel, on the south coast. For the cholera outbreak, the agency is delivering emergency supplies and ramping up health and sanitation work with a special focus on encouraging hand washing and building cholera treatment units. Four of its five clinics are now open seven days a week.

"Our teams on the ground are already stretched responding to the huge scale of the earthquake and the expanding cholera outbreak. Now with this added threat of Tomas, we will need funding to bring in more supplies, employ more staff and reach more families who urgently need our help," said Shaye.

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For more information on Save the Children's response to the cholera outbreak in Haiti, please visit our Haiti Emergency Response page.

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