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Tomas spares Haiti; cholera concern higher

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (BP)–Hurricane Tomas skirted west of Haiti’s crowded capital, Port-au-Prince, this past weekend — sparing the tent cities in which earthquake survivors are living — but authorities are concerned flooding from the storm’s heavy rains will worsen the country’s cholera outbreak.

The Haitian government reported 20 storm-related deaths, and thousands of people were forced from their homes and tents by flooding, according to news reports. Cholera has killed more than 500 people and sickened more than 7,700. Storm-caused flooding could worsen the spread of bacteria and lead to more infections, officials said.

Carter Davis, a veteran Southern Baptist missionary who is helping coordinate Southern Baptist relief efforts in Haiti, reported Nov. 5 that he had spoken with Garnel Joseph, a pastor in Petite Goav, who said that area had received a lot of rain, while the area around Cazeau experienced only rain and moderate wind.

“It appears the Port-au-Prince area was spared major damage,” Davis told David Brown, who with his wife Jo directs work in the Americas for Baptist Global Response, an international relief and development organization. However, Davis added, “[W]e know from experience that even small rain creates major problems for those living in tents, because water comes into the tents from the ground.”

A team of Florida and Southern Baptist disaster relief workers traveled to Leogane on Saturday, Nov. 6, and found “substantial flooding especially in the tent cities and homes,” said Eddie Blackmon, a disaster relief consultant who is helping coordinate the rebuilding efforts in Haiti.

“We visited pastor Roosevelt Pierre [of] Eglise Baptiste Chretienne de LaSaintite in Tombe Gateau, whose church and tin shelter was blown down from the winds and floods. We helped him put it back together so he could have worship on Sunday,” Blackmon said. The area around Port-au-Prince survived well, but regions west of the city were hit hard with water flooding down from the mountains.

The city of Jeremie was heavily damaged, Blackmon reported.

Florida Baptists were already scheduled to deliver Buckets of Hope to the region — specifically Jeremie and Les Cayes — the week of Nov. 8. They plan to redirect a second container of buckets to the region. The buckets, which provide a week of food supplies for Haitian families, were packed by Southern Baptists in the U.S.

Dennis Wilbanks, director of the Florida Baptist Convention’s partnership mission department, is scheduled to travel back to Haiti during the week to begin a distribution of rice.
Compiled by Baptist Press staff from reports submitted by Baptist Global Response and the Florida Baptist Convention.

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