HAVANA (Sept. 8, 2017) — While Haiti suffered a near miss from the eye of Hurricane Irma, CARE and its partners in Cuba are bracing for impact as the severe storm approaches.
Initial reports suggest Haiti faced minimal damages in the northern areas hit by the edge of Hurricane Irma. CARE is supporting government damage assessments in the north, and north-west of the country which has suffered the most, and is working with affected communities to understand what support they might need.
Late Thursday, CARE began distributing food to people in one key shelter in Arbonite. “Now we’re widening our assessment to see exactly where additional hot meals are needed in the north east,” said Karl Paul, CARE Haiti’s country director, shortly before joining a UN assessment flight on Friday afternoon.
While Haiti determines damages sustained, Hurricane Irma’s potentially deadly path continues, as the now-Category 4 hurricane tracks directly towards neighboring Cuba, where CARE and local partners are preparing to respond if needed.
Strong winds, heavy rains and storm surges approaching 10 feet are starting to affect coastal communities to the east of the island. These conditions will continue to travel along the north coast. The impact could be felt as far as the Cuban capital Havana into the weekend.
Cuban government authorities are leading emergency response efforts, encouraging people to go to evacuation centers if in areas under immediate threat.
“Hurricane Irma has already proven her destructive force. Right now, we’re just waiting and hoping Cuba will be spared,” said Richard Paterson, country representative for CARE in Cuba. “CARE’s partners in eastern Cuba are already reporting the weather beginning to turn. We are worried about flooding and dangerous seas for coastal communities and those still rebuilding their lives after last year’s devastating Hurricane Matthew. The next 24 hours are going to be very hard for Cuba.”
Founded in 1945, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE has more than seven decades of experience helping people prepare for disasters, providing lifesaving assistance when a crisis hits, and helping communities recover after the emergency has passed. CARE places special focus on women and children, who are often disproportionately affected by disasters. Last year CARE worked in 94 countries to reach 80 million people, including more than 11 million through emergency response and humanitarian aid. Learn more at care.org.
For Haiti: Nicole Harris, firstname.lastname@example.org, 404-735-0871
For Cuba: Darcy Knoll, email@example.com, 613-228-5641