The worst of the heavy rains and strong, gusting winds of Hurricane Tomas blew past Haiti by early this morning (Saturday, November 6). The eye of the storm fortunately skirted the beleaguered country. But PIH staff in the Lower Artibonite, Central Plateau, and Port-au-Prince regions reported that the rains are making already miserable living conditions even worse and that flooding heightens the threat that the deadly cholera epidemic that broke out late last month may spread more rapidly and widely.
In the capital city of Port-au-Prince, heavy rains pounded settlement camps where millions of displaced Haitians have been living since the January earthquake. PIH operates health clinics that serve four of these settlements, including the large camp Parc Jean-Marie Vincent.
"The living conditions are inhumane at the camp in Parc Jean-Marie Vincent," reported PIH Chief of Mission in Haiti Louise Ivers. "Displaced persons, having no other option but to stay out the storm in their flimsy shelters are today struggling with the persistent steady rain and the mud and flooding in the bottom of their dwellings." The clinical team continued to provide services at Parc Jean-Marie Vincent throughout Friday at a mobile clinic and pharmacy.
In the Artibonite Region, which has been battling a deadly cholera outbreak since October, the PIH team reports high winds and heavy rains, including flooding in Gonaives and the coastal town of Grande Saline, where PIH provided cholera relief by helicopter last week in collaboration with UN Humanitarian Air Support. Teams of community health workers continue to carry out outreach activities to educate local communities about cholera and distribute oral rehydration salts and water purification tablets, where possible.
In the Central Plateau, PIH staff report heavy rain, but little flooding or serious damage. A team has been dispatched to check on the areas that were flooded during the hurricanes of 2008 and are now suffering from the cholera outbreak. A steady stream of cholera patients continues to arrive at hospitals that PIH operates in partnership with the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP) in Hinche and Lacolline in the Central Plateau, as well as in St. Marc and Petite Rivière in the Artibonite.