3 August 2011
The British Red Cross is helping Haitians prepare for tropical storm Emily, which is expected to cause heavy rains, potential landslides and flooding over the coming days.
Millions of Red Cross SMS messages are being sent country-wide to inform people of the impending storm and advise them of simple, but potentially life-saving, steps to take to keep them safe.
Volunteers are visiting camps and going door-to-door to spread these messages further and response teams are on standby for when the storm hits.
“People are still very vulnerable. Thousands of families are living in camps, in unsafe shelters or housing, and in areas prone to flooding or landslides,” said British Red Cross recovery manager Alastair Burnett.
“We’re working to make sure people are prepared and know how to keep themselves safe, both from the physical dangers of the storm and also the threat of cholera which floods can bring.”
Preparations for the 2011 hurricane season, led by the Haitian government’s Civil Protection Department, have been ongoing across the country. Over the past year, the Red Cross has helped organise emergency first aid courses, training in early warning systems, and projects such as ditch-digging and disaster preparedness training in camps.
The British Red Cross has also been running shelter improvement programmes to help ensure people’s temporary shelters are as resistant as possible to the elements.
“So far around 3,000 shelters have been improved, making sure that roofs are pitched to drain water away, frames are sturdy and floors raised to protect against ground water,” added Burnett.
“It’s now eighteen months since the earthquake struck. Things are improving slowly but storms like this could be a real setback. By preparing ahead of time, people increase their ability to keep themselves safe and ensure their recovery continues.”
Find out how we're helping Haiti recover from the earthquake