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Monday 03 October 2016

‘Haitians to help Haitians’ priority as ShelterBox plans aid to help
‘Haitians to help Haitians’ priority as ShelterBox plans aid to help

UPDATE 10/9/2016

Haiti is counting the human and physical cost of hurricane Matthew – nearly 900 dead, tens of thousands homeless, cholera taking grip. But these disaster-prone communities are resilient, and a team from ShelterBox finds a new ‘self help’ ethos as it makes its partnership aid plans.
Corail, Haiti 2016
‘My house wasn’t destroyed, so I am receiving people, like it’s a temporary shelter.’ These are the words of Bellony Amazan in the town of Cavaillon, where around a dozen people died as hurricane Matthew tore across Haiti’s southern peninsula on Tuesday. She went on to say she did not yet have any food to give people.
Bellony’s community spirit in extreme circumstances reflects a fundamental change from reactions to previous storms and the massive quake in 2010. ShelterBox’s in-country coordinator Andrew Clark says, ‘Everyone is stressing a need and desire for ‘Haitians to help Haitians’ as best as they can. In the past there has been a reliance on aid organizations and a lack of local self-recovery.’ Although international assistance will be essential, and an official state of emergency has been declared, there is an increased emphasis on harnessing community groups and faith-based organizations.
Andre Bloemink, a ShelterBox response volunteer from Canada, adds, ‘Haitians are helping Haitians as best as they can. With previous operations the response often inadvertently promoted reliance on others as opposed to self-recovery. With an already challenged infrastructure, public health and uncertain political situation, the idea is to assist locals as best as we can to support a proactive recovery in the weeks and months ahead.’
As in the 2010 quake when it supported 28,000 families, and in other hurricane events such as Sandy in 2012, ShelterBox has been a major aid provider to Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere.

Food, clean water, healthcare and shelter remain priorities on Haiti in the aftermath of Matthew. Transport difficulties to affected areas have been eased a little by the construction of a temporary replacement bridge across La Digue river to the southwest of Port au Prince. ShelterBox team members are exploring transport links and logistics today. But aid access to many remote communities is still mainly by sea or military helicopter, and some coastal towns and villages are still underwater four days after the storm surge.
In 2010 cholera, previously unknown in Haiti, claimed at least 3,500 lives. The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) now says, ‘Due to massive flooding and its impact on water and sanitation infrastructure, cholera cases are expected to surge after Hurricane Matthew and through the normal rainy season until the start of 2017.’ Among ShelterBox’s suite of aid is a water filtration device to give a household safe drinking water, as well as mosquito nets to combat the spread of other diseases. 

Originating off Africa on September 22, Matthew developed into a strong tropical storm on September 28. Meteorologists then reported an ‘explosive intensification’ as it tracked across the Caribbean, becoming a maximum strength Category 5 hurricane last weekend at a record-low latitude. On October 4, Matthew made landfall on Haiti’s Tiburon Peninsula as Category 4, and later on the eastern tip of Cuba. In Haiti an estimated 65,000 people sought the safety of resilient shelters. There were deaths even in the Dominican Republic, which shared the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. The hurricane continued to the Bahamas, and between October 7 and 8 gradually weakened to parallel the coast of the south-eastern United States. Storm-watchers are tracking its possible future relationship with another storm system that may re-energise Matthew and cause it to double back southwards.

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UPDATE 10/8/2016

Port au Prince largely untouched, but southern peninsula devastated

Emergency shelter experts from ShelterBox are now in Haiti assessing damage and need in a country reeling from yet another natural catastrophe. Hurricane Matthew has left hundreds dead and hundreds of thousands in need of help
Floodwater, collapsed bridges, downed power lines – just a few of the barriers that await aid workers in Haiti, with many of the worst affected areas currently accessible only by air or sea. 
The US Navy is using helicopters to reach some communities and to airlift the injured, but the general picture that meets the ShelterBox team that arrived in Port au Prince yesterday evening is of medical, food, fresh water and shelter need that will present huge challenges over coming days and weeks.

Haiti building after Hurricane Matthew 2016
Haiti buildings after Hurricane Matthew 2016

ShelterBox’s In Country Coordinator, Andrew Clark, says, ‘Our ShelterBox response team arrived in Port au Prince from the UK, USA, Canada and Germany. We landed in the dark and headed to our Haiti base, a secure compound close to the airport. To that end we have seen no ill effects of the hurricane yet, and local sources tell us that Port au Prince was largely untouched by Hurricane Matthew.’
‘After a team briefing running through safety and security protocols, agreeing our team tasks and generally getting our bearings, we set to. Today we are conducting detailed research to gain a better understanding of need, reaching out to partners, and ascertaining the best fit from a geographical and operational stand point.’
‘We look to serve the most vulnerable and hard to reach communities, so we will play our role in shelter and logistics elements of the Global Cluster aid mechanism - this is where aid agencies and government officials work together to agree the most effective responses. We have ShelterBox aid both in country and close by in Panama, but we must first assess the type of aid required so that it is appropriate to each scenario.’ 
In some locations on Haiti’s southern peninsula as many as 80% of the buildings have been damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Matthew. In addition to storm-resistant tents and kits to make damaged buildings weatherproof, ShelterBox also supplies water filtration and mosquito nets to combat disease, and solar lighting where power is down. 

Speed of recovery may be helped by ShelterBox’s model of pre-positioned aid – 369 tents and 77 complete ShelterBoxes already await distribution in Port au Prince, a further 1,310 Shelter kits, mosquito nets and water filtration equipment are ready to be shipped from Panama, and 323 ShelterBoxes are aboard Dutch Navy vessels steaming out of Curacao. 
After Haiti and Cuba, Hurricane Matthew pounded the Bahamas on Thursday, but no fatalities were reported there. Four people died in the Dominican Republic neighboring Haiti on Tuesday. The hurricane is currently winding its way up the south-eastern US coast, just miles from the Florida coast, which is being battered by strong winds and rain. At least three million inhabitants have been ordered to evacuate their homes, including in Georgia and South and North Carolina as Matthew tracks up the US eastern seaboard. A state of emergency is in place in these states.

DONATE TO SHELTERBOX and help us to provide emergency shelter and lifesaving aid to families that have been displaced by disasters around the world.

UPDATE 10/7/2016

Hurricane Matthew is currently lashing the east coast of the U.S. leaving in its wake terrible destruction on the island of Haiti. At its height, the storm reached 155 mph winds and caused extensive damage to bridges and transportation networks. The death toll has surpassed 800 and is still expected to climb while roughly 330,000 people have been affected by the storm.  

Damage and destruction in Haiti from Hurricane Matthew

The ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) is expected to arrive in the capital, Port-au-Prince, later today. Once the team is on the ground, they will start to carry out assessments to work out the level of need, as well as the most suitable selection of aid for each community. ShelterBox has stocks of aid pre-positioned in Haiti as the Dutch Navy is transporting more stocks from our nearby storage locations.

ShelterBox is looking at the possibility of partnering with fellow aid agency ACTED, who we have worked with on several projects, including our response in Nepal. Working in partnership could give us more flexibility and capacity to reach isolated communities in the country.

As the storm causes storm surges and damaging wind in the U.S., approximately 500,000 people are currently without electricity and one fatality was declared overnight. Matthew is now downgraded to a Cat 3 and is expected to weaken as it draws up the coast. ShelterBox continues to monitor the storm's impact.

DONATE TO SHELTERBOX and help us to provide emergency shelter and lifesaving aid to families that have been displaced by disasters around the world.

Oct 6, 2016: ShelterBox USA President Kerri Murray talks to CNN International about the impact of Hurricane Matthew on Haiti and how ShelterBox is looking to assist:

UPDATE 10/5/2016

Hurricane Matthew, the most powerful Caribbean hurricane in nearly a decade has left thousands of people displaced in Haiti, with officials struggling to reach the worst hit areas. Haiti is one of the world’s poorest countries, and many residents live in flimsy housing in flood prone areas.

There have been a number of deaths in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, which together comprise the island of Hispaniola. Death tolls are expected to rise as the extent of damage emerges. In the port town of Les Cayes an estimated 70,000 people were affected by flooding, and many of the area’s insubstantial houses had lost roofs.
With advance warnings at least 10,000 people were evacuated to shelters, but the UN has since reported overcrowded hospitals and fresh water shortages, with fears of waterborne disease. An estimated four million children may have been exposed to hurricane damage

Haiti / Hurricane Matthew 2016
Haiti / Hurricane Matthew 2016

ShelterBox already has some aid stored in Haiti and large stocks of aid in Panama, ready to assist during the hurricane season. With airports closed, some of this aid has already been dispatched from Curacao aboard the Dutch Navy vessel HMNS Holland. The aid includes water filtration equipment which will be vital given the flooding, solar lighting to assist during electricity black outs, blankets, special shelter kits of tools and tarps to help weatherproof damaged buildings.
The response team is heading out this week to assess damage and need.  The team includes Rachel Swist, an autism consultant from London, who helped in Haiti following the earthquake in 2010.  Other members include: Andre Bloemink (CA), Peter Leach (UK), Mike Peachy (NZ), Yi Shun Lai (US) and Bill Woodard (US).

ShelterBox USA President Kerri Murray provides a summary of ShelterBox's response: 
"The UN has stated that Haiti is facing the largest humanitarian event since the earthquake in 2010. A ShelterBox Response Team has been mobilized, with members from the U.S., and many of whom deployed to Haiti previously and have experience in the area. We expect arrival on Friday as air routes re-open. Shelterbox is also standing by to help other countries that may be impacted by Hurricane Matthew as it moves up the Eastern seaboard."

Meteorologists expect Hurricane Matthew to become less forceful as it moves on from Cuba later today, but precautions are being taken already in Florida, the Bahamas, and along the east coast of the U.S. 

DONATE TO SHELTERBOX and help us to provide emergency shelter and lifesaving aid to families that have been displaced by disasters around the world.

Hurricane Matthew


ShelterBox, the international emergency shelter experts, are closely monitoring the progress of Matthew, one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes in recent years. With echoes of their response to Haiti’s quake in 2010, ShelterBox has experience of aiding islanders.
Getting aid to remote island communities after natural disasters is something of a signature response for international charity, ShelterBox. This year alone it has supplied emergency shelter and lifesaving supplies to remote islanders on Fiji after they were hit by the most powerful cyclone ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere.
ShelterBox was also among the first agencies on the scene of Sri Lanka’s deadly mudslides when the island nation experienced its most torrential monsoon rains for forty years in May.
Now ShelterBox is closely monitoring the course of Hurricane Matthew, a Category Four storm that threatens 40 inches of rain and wind speeds of 130 mph, with the possibility of flash flooding and storm surges. It has already hit parts of Jamaica, with floodwaters blocking roads in the capital Kingston. 
As Matthew moves slowly northwards there are fears for Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, and for Cuba and the Bahamas.
ShelterBox Operations Team Lead Andrew Clark is heading up an Operations unit in Truro watching the storm’s progress. Andrew says, ‘At present the countries that lie in Matthew’s forecast path are advising citizens to evacuate coastal areas and to abandon vulnerable buildings.’
‘ShelterBox’s role will be to examine the aftermath, to liaise with governments and our colleague aid charities, and to respond where and when appropriate. We have aid stored in the region in Panama, so if there is a need that we can meet in any of these countries we will make arrangements promptly.’
‘At this stage we hope that the forewarning of Matthew’s arrival will have allowed people to escape danger. But this is a violent storm that will cause structural damage, and flooding and storm surges are extremely likely.’
‘Both of Haiti’s airports are now closed, but we have experience of getting aid into Haiti in challenging conditions, and of responding to major storms all over the world.’
Meteorologists say that Hurricane Matthew is expected to pass east of Florida through the Bahamas in the coming days, although it is too soon to say whether it will move any closer to the US coast.

DONATE TO SHELTERBOX and help us to provide emergency shelter and lifesaving aid to families that have been displaced by disasters around the world.

News: ShelterBox response to 2010 Haiti Earthquake
News: CNN 2010 - Tracking aid to Haiti
Photos: 2010 Haiti Response
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