PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — An
embattled Haiti is bracing for Hurricane Tomas, which strengthened into a hurricane today before its projected hit.
In the 10 months since the
Jan. 12 earthquake, Haitians have lived in fear of two potential threats, with
more than 1.3 million homeless in unsanitary and unstable tent cities: disease
and hurricanes in the tropical climate.
Those living in tent cities
are most at risk. What the strong winds do not destroy, the floodwaters will,
as thousands of tents line riverbanks and low-lying areas.
Florida and Southern Baptist
disaster relief teams on the ground in Port-au-Prince are making preparations
for the worst, said Eddie Blackmon, Haiti Rebuild coordinator for Southern
Baptist Disaster Relief.
“We are sending two medical
teams from Pensacola back to the U.S., getting our water supplies together in a
safe place and filling up our vehicles with gas, much like we do when a
hurricane is threatening Florida,” said Blackmon. Construction materials being
used to rebuild homes also are being secured, he noted.
Although media reports
suggest that the government is moving people out of the tent cities, Blackmon
said he had driven through the tent cities in Port-au-Prince during the past
two days and “seen no movement. My biggest concern is for the people in the
“There is really no place
for them to go,” Blackmon added. “If there were, the government would have
moved them before now.”
Fritz Wilson, incident
commander of the Haiti earthquake response and Florida Baptist disaster relief
director, reported that the convention has 17 tons of rice positioned in
warehouses across Haiti, with pastors trained for making distributions if
“We have our supplies and
resources on the ground,” Wilson said.
“In God’s timing,” he said, “next
week we are scheduled to take more than 4,000 Buckets of Hopes to Jeremie and
Les Cayes,” towns in southwestern Haiti where the hurricane is likely to hit.
Each bucket, packed by Southern Baptist hands, contains enough food to feed a
Haitian family for more than a week.