ShelterBox sends team after powerful 7.2 mag earthquake rocks Haiti

Tropical Storm Grace approaching, bringing strong winds, floods and risk of mudslides

16 August 2021

Press release - 16 August 2021

Cornwall-based disaster relief charity ShelterBox is sending a team to the Dominican Republic, after a powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake and continuing aftershocks rocked Haiti. 

Now with Haiti in the path of Tropical Storm Grace, survivors of the earthquake could be hit tonight by strong winds, driving rain, flooding and deadly mudslides. Many will be facing these conditions with their homes already destroyed. Existing rescue efforts could be severely affected.

The ShelterBox team will initially work from Dominican Republic, which borders Haiti. They will work with fellow humanitarians to assess damage reports, understand from communities what they need, and work on the challenging logistics of delivering aid to areas where buildings have been reduced to rubble.

This will be the first time a ShelterBox team has deployed since the coronavirus crisis severely restricted international travel in early 2020.

Early reports show that almost 3,000 homes have been destroyed and at least 5,400 more damaged – but search and rescue is the priority right now, so damage reports will soar in the coming days and weeks.

ShelterBox have responded several times to Haiti, including in the aftermath of the catastrophic 2010 earthquake. The charity will be using everything it has learned, and its close partnership with Rotary International, to forge local connections and make sure the right emergency shelter reaches communities when they need it.

Alice Jefferson, ShelterBox Head of Responses, said this afternoon: ‘The earthquake hit Haiti early in the morning – and it hit hard. Right now, almost a million people need support. We know that will include shelter. Our teams are working round the clock to understand how to get the right aid to people in Haiti, and the approach of Storm Grace only increases the urgency.

‘The rubble of a disaster zone is no place to shelter from a tropical storm, let alone try and continue rescuing survivors. We will do everything we can to reach vulnerable communities after they have suffered so much.’

ShelterBox responded to the Les Cayes region – close to the epicentre of Saturday’s earthquake after Hurricane Matthew in 2016. The geography near the quake’s epicentre could make access to vulnerable communities – and the materials they need to recover – especially difficult. Homes are often made from concrete, wood and corrugated iron, leaving them vulnerable to strong earthquakes. Heavy rainfall from Tropical Storm Grace could cut off roads and leave people stranded without support.


Notes to editors

For more information and interviews please contact the ShelterBox Media Team

ShelterBox Chief Executive Sanj Srikanthan is available for interview.

In 2010, ShelterBox provided shelter for 28,000 families (140,000 people) in Haiti – the charity’s biggest response to date, outside the long-running conflict in Syria.

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