Thursday, september 25:
With needs assessments finished after Tropical Storm Isaac, no need has been found and ShelterBox Operations have stopped monitoring the situation. The ShelterBoxes in country will be used as contingency stocks.
thursday, september 6:
With no need found, the team is home. However, monitoring and needs assessments continue remotely. The 448 ShelterBoxes will be prepositioned in Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince and will be used as contingency stocks when future disasters strike the Caribbean.
wednesday, september 5:
Tropical Storm Isaac has highlighted the urgent need to provide adequate shelter for 390,000 people still living under tarps and in tents since the 2010 earthquake and close the 575 remaining camps, says International Organization for Migration (IOM).
For more than two years, ShelterBox has been working closely with IOM in Haiti coordinating a permanent relocation programme to help families either return to their place of origin, or set up homes in a new location they have identified.
Residual stocks of tents and emergency equipment have been distributed to these displaced families to enable them to finally start to rebuild their lives.
Almost 19,000 families have left camps with help from IOM, ShelterBox and other humanitarian actors who have been providing rental subsidies, resulting in the closing of 50 camps so far.
'While civil protection and preparedness will continue to be a high priority for Haiti for the foreseeable future, we will fall down on the job as humanitarians, if we do not urgently find the necessary resources to close these camps quickly,' said IOM Haiti Chief of Mission Luca Dall'Oglio.
'We now need to target as many as possible of the remaining 575 camps, especially those where people live in dangerous and exposed conditions susceptible to storm damage.'
Following need assessments to Haiti's hardest hit areas, the ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) also feels that tented shelter is not needed in this case.
SRT members Mark Dyer (US) and Jeff Pietras (US) made one last assessment after receiving information from charity Handicap International that there was a need for shelter in the very isolated area Belle Anse.
The department of Belle Anse is a coastal and mountainous inland region of South East Haiti located near the border with the Dominican Republic. The main town is a small coastal fishing town. The other seven sectors are located along a single unpaved track in the mountainous interior, very rural, very poor and very inaccessible.
'We drove nine hours along a difficult single track road to reach the sectors that large transport trucks would find difficult to pass in the best conditions,' said Mark.
They assessed the most impacted sectors, Baie d'Orange, Mabriole, Pichon and Mapou, which had the largest reports of damaged and destroyed homes in the farming region.
'Plantations and farms are spread widely across the hills and mountains so most of the assessments were of communes lying within a walking distance of around 20 minutes along the narrow road,' said Jeff.
'Our assessments found fairly light crop and plantation damage in the majority of the communes and community infrastructure was fine. However, remote Baie d'Orange was the worst affected where entire crop fields lay flattened; churches, schools and community halls had severe roof damage and structural problems as a result from the storm.'
'The worst damage from a housing perspective was also in Baie d'Orange,' said Mark. 'The sporadic nature of the destruction meant that some primitive wooden structures weathered the storm fine but some concrete homes had major roof damage. But people who had taken refuge in storm shelters while Isaac hit had already returned to their homes, attending to repairs and living with their neighbours or in less damaged parts of their homes.'
Similar to the SRT's assessments made in Port-au-Prince and Jacmel, the need is greatest for roof repairs around Belle Anse as families are no longer living in the emergency storm shelters but being looked after by the community.
'We believe this is an isolated problem, affecting one house while leaving neighbours untouched,' said Jeff. 'It is an extremely remote location and we feel that by the time ShelterBox aid could be transported here most repairs will have been made or affected families will have been absorbed by the community. We feel that tented shelter is not needed in this case.'
The 448 ShelterBoxes will be prepositioned in Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince and will be used as contingency stocks when future disasters strike the Caribbean.
friday, august 31:
There is less need for emergency shelter in Haiti than expected in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Isaac, according to a ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) currently responding to the disaster in the Caribbean island.
SRT members Mark Dyer (US) and Jeff Pietras (US) arrived in the capital Port-au-Prince on 27 August to assess the damage and need for emergency shelter, the day following the destructive path of Isaac.
Defying warnings made by the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC), the storm never developed into a hurricane as it hit Haiti. Nevertheless coastal regions were battered with heavy rain and strong winds in excess of 105 kilometres-an-hour throughout the evening and early hours of the morning on 25-26 August.
'Me and Jeff are working in country with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and local municipalities to identify humanitarian need for emergency shelter,' said Mark.
'With an estimated 300,000 Haitians sill living in tented camps following the earthquake in 2010, the vulnerability of the population is still very much evident.'
The storm's force was felt the most in southeastern Haiti, especially the coastal towns around Jacmel, Cayes Jacmel and Marigot.
In the south, widespread flooding was evident; many roads were washed out, banana plantations were destroyed, and several hundred homes were damaged or in a state of disrepair.
'When we visited these areas floodwaters were already subsiding and repairs were underway,' said Jeff. 'The need for emergency shelter seems less a priority than preventative health and sanitation measures to avoid waterborne diseases.'
Isaac largely spared the populated Port-au-Prince and other western areas of Haiti, where many of the larger camps from the earthquake remain.
The SRT visited several sites where a number of ShelterBox tents remain in good condition several years on and with no visible damage from the passing storm.
Nalise Noel is a resident in a camp near western Leogane. She spoke to Jeff about her experience weathering the storm:
'I was very scared the night of the storm, especially with so much water and wind outside. I feared to leave my belongings behind, so I stayed inside my tent which I have lived in for the past two years. My tent is strong though. It keeps out running water and stays fixed when the winds blow hard. I am thankful for this tent, which is my home.'
However, a need for shelter has been found in the rural areas around Belle Anse along the coast east of Jacmel by one of ShelterBox's partners Handicap International.
Their teams reported more significant damage in the isolated hard-to-reach area with over 1,000 displaced families.
Subsequently, Jeff and Mark will work with Handicap International and IOM to transport and deliver ShelterBoxes already in country to those families in need.
The Haitian Civil Protection (DPC) and IOM evacuated thousands of people from camps to safe shelters as the storm hit. Once it passed over they returned to the camps with shelter materials, hygiene kits and other aid where necessary.
'The camps got lucky this time and dodged a bullet,' said IOM Haiti Chief of Mission Luca Dall'Oglio. 'But they will not always be so lucky and the international community needs to act now to close all the camps by providing rental subsidies and housing solutions for those living there. The social and financial costs of evacuating a camp population every time there is a major storm can far outstrip the cost of providing housing rental solutions.
'The rapid response was a credit to the hard work of preparedness and coordination which the State, through the DPC and humanitarian actors, have been engaged in.'
wednesday, august 29:
A ShelterBox Response Team arrived in Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince on Monday evening to begin making need assessments for emergency shelter. Communications have been down due to the storm.
thursday, august 23:
ShelterBox aid is expected to arrive at Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince on 24 August as Tropical Storm Isaac approaches the Caribbean island.
Tropical Storm Isaac is travelling fast across the Caribbean having hurtled over the smaller islands of Martinique, Guadeloupe and Dominica, forcing some flights to be cancelled and some businesses to close, but not causing any damage.
With it now strengthening and heading towards the island of Hispaniola, shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) predicts that it will become a hurricane.
'Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion,' the NHC advised.
A hurricane warning has been issued for Haiti as Isaac draws closer, bringing with it an estimated 51 centimetres (20 inches) of rain and strong winds.
With Haiti still recovering from the devastating 7.0-magnitude earthquake in 2010, Isaac is a real threat, especially as an estimated 400,000 Haitians are still living in makeshift shelters and tents.
'These rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides,' warned the NHC.
Tom Lay is one of many Response Team members who helped deliver aid to the 2010 quake survivors and is one of ShelterBox's Operations Coordinators monitoring the situation:
'The boxes have been sent as contingency stocks for the Haitian people for when situations like this happen.
'We are currently coordinating our response with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), one of our partners who has a strong presence in Haiti and who we have continued to work with since the earthquake hit.
'If the hurricane strikes as predicted, we have Response Teams lined up to be sent in immediately to assess the need if required.'
Haiti is one of the world's poorest countries and its geographic location makes it one of the Caribbean's most disaster-prone countries; with its high poverty level, the island has always battled to cope with the aftermath of natural disasters.
Landslides and flash flooding are common in this half of Hispaniola due to deforestation. The situation became more serious after the earthquake over two years ago.
Hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives following the quake that struck the capital on 12 January 2010 and an estimated 1.5 million were housed in impromptu settlements.
Over 28,000 ShelterBoxes were sent in response to the disaster, the greatest number that ShelterBox has ever sent to a single disaster.
If Isaac does not hit Haiti as hard as predicted, the ShelterBoxes will be prepositioned there and used for future disasters in the region.