Thirteen dead. Submerged houses. Fields and banana plantations waterlogged. Drowned livestock. Impassable roads. Fresh trauma for quake-displaced thousands. This is the plight of Les Cayes, a city on Haiti’s south coast, after an unseasonal deluge. And hurricane season is not far off.
Trucks loaded with 4,030 meals left Port-au-Prince on 2 March for emergency distribution in and around Les Cayes. Food has also been sent to Nippes region, north of Les Cayes, which has experienced bad flooding.
The UN World Food Programme, with local authorities and NGOs, plans to supply 10-day rations to affected populations, including some 3,000 people evacuated from their homes.
"The poor state of the sewers caused flooding in every [district] of the city," said the regional president of the Haitian National Red Cross Society, Jean-Yves Placide.
“In some places the waters rose to ceiling level in people's houses," he said. "The situation will be really worrying if it continues to rain. The sun is out now, but the storm clouds come and go."
“People are used to dealing with floods, just not this early,” one aid worker in Les Cayes told IRIN.
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A mother of two in the city’s Solon district told IRIN her family had lost everything to the flooding. “All our belongings were destroyed – our beds, our clothes, everything.”
Rains hit the area on 27-28 February. On 2 March many homes still had standing water, the aid worker told IRIN.
“Many, many people have told us they lost their crops [including banana trees and sugar cane] and their animals,” he said.
Local NGOs who work with Christian Aid are assessing damage to agriculture, Prospery Raymond, the charity’s head in Haiti, told IRIN.
According to Haiti’s Department of Civil Protection, agriculture has been “heavily affected”.
The rainy season proper usually starts in the beginning of April and peaks in May.
According to Iain Logan, head of operations for the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in Port-au-Prince, Haiti is ill-equipped to cope.
“The early floods in Les Cayes are a sharp reminder that the very significant disaster preparedness effort we started after the 2008 hurricanes will have to be expanded and adapted,” he said in an IFRC release.
"We face an almost unique set of circumstances generated by a catastrophic quake, a rainy season, and a hurricane season, one after the other in rapid succession," he added.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions
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