CARE readies response as Hurricane Irma bears down on Haiti, Cuba

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Hurricane Irma barreling toward the Eastern Caribbean, captured by satellite on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017.

AS Hurricane Irma continues its destructive path through the Caribbean, CARE’s emergency teams in Haiti and Cuba have made final preparations by readying clean drinking water, food and emergency supplies.

CARE, one of the largest humanitarian organisations in Haiti, has teams ready to respond in at least eight of Haiti’s 10 departments, or provinces. CARE has pre-positioned water purification tablets and tarps that can be used for shelter. CARE also plans to provide hot meals and drinking water to people in shelters.

“The gigantic waves starting to pound our northern shore give us a hint of what is coming,” Karl Paul, CARE’s Country Director in Haiti, said.

“One of our greatest concerns is for the very vulnerable families living in rural, mountainous areas. They live in fragile homes and many are so isolated that they may not have gotten word of Irma’s ferocious strength.”

Urban areas also are at great risk, Mr Paul said. “People are living in very close quarters, lots of houses are very close together. A category five storm can destroy a house, knock down the walls, the roof, everything. Flooding and mudslides are a serious threat, as is the potential for a contaminated water supply.”

Haiti is still recovering from Hurricane Matthew, which devastated the southern part of the country less than a year ago, killing more than 500 people and displacing more than 140,000.

CARE is working through schools, village savings groups, and mother care groups to get important emergency messages to community members to help them prepare. “We’re telling them get to a safe space, don’t send children to school and make sure your animals are safe too,” Mr Paul said. “CARE will continue to coordinate closely with the Haitian Government and other partners in order to prepare and implement an appropriate humanitarian response.”

In Cuba, CARE is preparing to assist local authorities if required, connecting with local partners and contacting suppliers for emergency aid items if needed.

“The north coast of the island will feel the brunt of Hurricane Irma. It’s expected to bring heavy rains and large storm surges, flooding all along the north coast. Those living along the coast are being evacuated, as roads will be washed out when the hurricane strikes,” said Richard Paterson, Country Representative for CARE in Cuba.

Donations to support CARE’s Global Emergency Fund can be made at care.org.au/emergency or by calling 1800 020 046.

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