Hurricane Irma: Preparing to help the most vulnerable

Category 5 Hurricane Irma, the longest-lasting, top-intensity hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic, began its northern pass of Haiti today, September 7. Handicap International is mobilizing its teams to intervene as soon as it's safe to support people affected by the storm's high winds and rain. Our team, based in Port-au-Prince, is already in touch with Haitian authorities, and is preparing to go to the affected areas as soon as it's safe to conduct the first evaluations with its Haitian partners.

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“This country is frequently affected by natural disasters, but we do not get used to it,” says Catherine Stubbe, director of Handicap International in Haiti. “The vulnerability of the population is growing. There are few natural obstacles, very few trees in particular, that can withstand heavy rains or floods, and we are worried about the most vulnerable people (people with disabilities, older people, pregnant women, and children). Many people live in remote areas and do not have easy access to information, or can not afford to take shelter." 

"Recurring messages circulate on local radios and remind us of very practical instructions: cut branches of trees near houses, place documents in the shelter in plastic bags, and above all, regroup, avoid any dispersion,” Stubbe explains. Handicap International is mobilizing its teams to intervene immediately with people who may be affected by the disaster and conducting evaluations.

HANDICAP INTERNATIONAL IN HAITI

Present in Haiti since 2008, Handicap International intervened following Hurricane Matthew in October 2016 and during the 2010 earthquake by providing rehabilitation, logistics support, basic needs (shelter, cooking kits, etc.), psychosocial support, and other specific needs for people with disabilities and other vulnerable populations.