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Thursday 23 August 2012

ShelterBoxes en route to Haiti as storm nears
ShelterBoxes en route to Haiti as storm nears Satellite image of Tropical Storm Isaac taken from NOAA/NASA GOES Project, August 2012.

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.

Hurricane warning

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.

'Coordinating with partners'

'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.'

Photograph taken by Mark Pearson during ShelterBox's response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

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.

Lost lives

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.

See the BBC's weather forecast trace the path of Tropical Storm Isaac, as well as the movements of Typhoons Tembin and Bolaven further out in the Pacific that ShelterBox is also monitoring here
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