Hurricane Sandy: CARE responds in Haiti and Cuba

Nov 08, 2012

Hurricane Sandy has brought shared misery to the United States and the Caribbean and it left a trail of destruction behind.

CARE’s emergency teams are on the ground in Haiti and Cuba assisting people affected by the hurricane.

In Haiti, Sandy brought three days of continuous heavy rains, which have left 52 people dead. Worst-affected are low-lying communities in western Haiti still recovering from damage caused by Tropical Storm Isaac in August.

In Grand Anse province, according to CARE staff members on the ground, Sandy destroyed and damaged 2,955 homes, decimated half of the cropland and left 14 people dead. In Léogâne, two villages were destroyed by the flooding caused by the storm, leaving more than 300 families without homes or belongings. In addition, large areas of farmland have been inundated, destroying much needed local crops.

CARE Haiti’s emergency responders are focused first on delivering emergency clean water and hygiene supplies to the worst-affected communities in Grand Anse. Responding as quickly as possible is essential to halting the spread of deadly water-borne diseases such as cholera. Some 30 cases of cholera have already been reported in Grand Anse alone, with more than 300 reported cases across the country and six deaths.

Hurricane Sandy made landfall in Cuba on October 25, striking the southeastern part of the country. According to UN estimates, 3 million people have been affected and approximately 226,600 houses have been damaged, including 50,000 which lost their roofs entirely. A further 96,980 hectares of crops were damaged by the storm, which has implications for the rest of the island, as Eastern Cuba produces many of the country’s staple crops.

“This is one of the most severe hurricanes to hit Eastern Cuba. Despite very good preparedness on the part of Cuban authorities, people were less prepared because the storm followed an unusual trajectory, and directly affected the city of Santiago de Cuba –which is not usually in the path of Caribbean hurricanes,” said Christina Polzot, CARE’s representative in Cuba. “The Cuban government coordinated the evacuation of 343,230 people, many of which remain seeking shelter with extended family, which creates significant overcrowding in these homes.”

The most urgent needs are in the housing sector, especially materials to help people repair and rebuild their homes, particularly roofs. Relief items are also needed, such as tools, family kits and hygiene supplies. CARE is in coordination with its local partners and the Cuban government in support of the emergency response. CARE Cuba plans to focus in particular on reaching female-headed households, which often face the worst situations in the aftermath of a disaster.