Haiti braces itself for Tropical Storm Tomas

Christian development agency Tearfund fears the impact of Tropical Storm Tomas could be “dire” when it makes landfall in the next 24 to 48 hours.

The storm is expected to bring strong winds and heavy rains, and could severely damage buildings and the tent camps still housing more than one million Haitians left homeless after the January 12 earthquake.

Tearfund is working on the ground with other aid agencies and the UN to help people prepare for the storm. It is already planning to distribute food to affected communities and provide timber and tarpaulins to families.

Laura Nairn, Tearfund Programme Director, said the aid agency was hoping the storm would not make landfall in Haiti.

“We’re obviously hoping and praying it doesn’t happen but we are as ready as we possibly can be if it does hit Haiti,” she said.

“We have assessed emergency food and shelter supplies and are making everything available for those who may be affected by this storm.

“This could be absolutely devastating for the people of Haiti, particularly those still living in tents and tarpaulins in and around Port-au-Prince following the earthquake earlier this year.”

Tearfund said it was taking steps to minimise the risk of flying debris at its construction sites. Jean Claude Cerin, Tearfund’s Country Representative in Haiti, said flying debris caused by violent winds would pose the biggest threat to life in the storm.

He said: “Branches and trees will fly around and houses can lose their roofs. The risk of flooding is huge and with that comes the risk of landslides and increased risk of waterborne diseases.”