Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Tropical Storm Tomas approaches Haiti

Tropical Storm Tomas is now 400 miles away from Haiti and is gathering strength over the ocean. The storm could be re-classified a hurricane by the time it reaches Haiti. Tomas destroyed over 1,200 homes and killed 14 in St.Lucia, it could inflict much more harm on the hundreds still without shelter in Port-au-Prince.

From MSNBC, we read about the evacuation efforts of the Haitian capitol's tent camps.

There was serious concern that the storm could wreak havoc in the sprawling tent cities set up in Haiti to house more than one million people left homeless by January's devastating earthquake.

The Haitian government and aid groups are already struggling with a major cholera epidemic that has killed at least 330 people and sickened over 4,700 people.

As Tomas churned over the open Caribbean sea, officials appealed to Haitians in tent camps to start evacuating, encouraging them to travel to the homes of family or friends.

"We have launched an appeal for voluntary evacuation, particularly in the camps," said Alta Jean-Baptiste, the director of the Haiti's Civil Protection Office. "We have plans to evacuate the camps but we won't be able to evacuate everybody."

Nadia Lochard, the coordinator for civil protection in Haiti's western department, said authorities were showing camp dwellers how to properly tie up their tents before evacuating.

She said even heavy rains in the country's southern region could potentially impact Port-au-Prince since several of Haiti's rivers originate in the area and extend to the capital.

In the tent camp of Corail-Cesselesse, managers held a "loudspeaker meeting" with megaphones to tell residents about the evacuation order, said Bryant Castro, the American Refugee Committee staffer managing the camp.

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