Two killed in Haiti by Hurricane Irene

Caribbean responds to damage caused

Friday, August 26, 2011

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PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti (CMC) - Hurricane Irene killed two people in Haiti, flooded houses, cut roads, unleashed landslides and devastated farm fields during its passage off the coast of the Caribbean country earlier this week, the United Nations has reported.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) spokesperson Emmanuelle Schneider said nearly 1,000 people were evacuated to emergency centres.

Haitian officials said that all alerts for the French-speaking Caricom country have now been lifted.

The UN Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) had earlier mobilised some its 12,000 uniformed personnel in preparation for any emergency for the storm that also battered the Bahamas.

The UN has more than 100,000 tents and tarpaulins in readiness in Haiti, enough food in reserve to feed 500,000 people for a month, and a 30-day supply of medical kits for 10,000 people in the event of a crisis in a country that is still struggling to recover from last year’s devastating earthquake, which killed an estimated 300,000 people and displaced 2.3 million others.

The Barbados-based Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) says it is fully mobilised to provide all necessary assistance to its affected member states affected by Hurricane Irene.

CDEMA's director for the Regional Coordinating Centre, Andria Grosvenor told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that CDEMA has maintained contact with the national disaster offices in the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands “and based on our assessment and initial reports received we are preparing to launch a Level three response - the highest level of activation - to the most impacted state.”

Irene slammed into the Bahamas destroying homes and damaging government buildings, schools and health facilities. The storm also knocked out electricity as its winds brought down power lines, roofs and uprooted trees.

“We also have several technical teams on standby throughout the Caribbean region, including the southern Caribbean as well as in Jamaica who are on standby to provide assistance to the Bahamas or Turks and Caicos islands as necessary in the areas of assessment, needs   analysis and recovery for the Bahamas.”

CDEMA said it was collaborating with a number of stakeholders including the Regional Security System, the University of the West Indies and the Caribbean Electricity Services Corporation that have placed their teams on standby to provide the necessary responses.

“We are also working very closely with Jamaica, our north-western Sub-Regional Focal Point, through the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) for Jamaica to be used as a staging area as required, for deployment and redeployment of relief supplies and personnel,” Grosvenor stated.

But she said that the “support from CDEMA recognises the sovereignty of a state within our system, and therefore our assistance to any state is based on their ability to provide assistance and a request for assistance.

“Bahamas will look at what they can handle and then they will say that this is beyond our capacity and we will like your specific assistance within these areas, and we therefore respect that very much.”

Grosvenor said that The Bahamas have already indicated their initial needs.

“They know what CDEMA is position to do and as soon as they have identified that they want us to support we will there provide the necessary assistance. That’s why our s systems are ready to go,” Grosvenor said.

At 8.00 am (local time), the centre of Hurricane Irene, a Category Two storm, was located near latitude 30.0 north longitude 77.3 west and is moving towards the north near 14 miles per hour.

The Miami-based National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said that this motion is expected to continue during the next 24 hours and on the forecast track, the core of the hurricane will pass well off the coast of north-eastern Florida by today and approach the coast of North Carolina later on tonight.

The hurricane is forecast to move near or over the mid-Atlantic coast tomorrow night.

US officials have already declared state of emergencies in six cities and were urging people to evacuate.

The NHC said that Irene is a large tropical cyclone and has hurricane force winds extending outward up to 90 miles.


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