Humanitarian agency World Vision is prepared to provide life-saving aid to the tens of thousands of people bracing for Hurricane Irma to hit the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Hurricane Irma has maintained maximum winds of 295 kilometres per hour, and is expected to keep strengthening.
If the storm hits as projected, World Vision is expecting major damage, particularly in Haiti’s northern, central, and western regions.
The north is expected to experience flooding, tidal waves, and wind gusts that could cause the destruction of homes, leaving tens of thousands of people in need of humanitarian assistance. World Vision expects access to basic services such as food and water should be a challenge in the affected areas, as roads, bridges, and buildings are damaged.
The northern coast of the Dominican Republic is also expected to have the most extreme conditions of Hurricane Irma, according to the current forecast.
World Vision is pre-positioned to respond in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, with supplies like bed sheets, jerrycans, hygiene kits, blankets, mosquito nets, and water sanitation supplies.
The National Director for World Vision Haiti, John Hasse, said authorities are on high alert in preparation for the storm.
“Many areas in Haiti are still recovering from Hurricane Matthew, which hit Haiti as a Category 4 storm less than a year ago,” he said. “It devastated more than 175,000 homes and farmers reported an estimated loss of around $600 million of US dollars in the agricultural sector from that storm.”
Mr Hasse said most people around Les Cayes and Jeremie, two of Haiti’s largest five cities, were still rebuilding their homes and re-establishing their farms. “A storm now, especially the level of winds that Irma could bring, could take those rebuilding efforts back to zero and ravage Cap-Haitian, which is Haiti's second largest city and the surrounding breadbasket area.”
Chloe Irvine, Head of External Affairs, World Vision New Zealand
Chloe.Irvine@worldvision.org.nz | +64 22 340 4271