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"I thought that it was another earthquake…"


People wading through flooded streetsTropical Storm Isaac tore through Haiti on Saturday - killing at least eight people and causing widespread destruction. High winds pulled roofs from houses, uprooted trees, carried off temporary shelters and blocked roads and electricity supplies.

About 400,000 people still living in makeshift camps in the country following the 2010 earthquake are among those who have been most affected.Plan is distributing relief items stockpiled in our warehouses to people living in temporary shelters.

"I didn't know what it was but I was very scared," says Martine, 16. "The loud wind brought back memories of the earthquake of 2010, when I lost my parents."

Martine lives in a Plan-supported training centre in Croix des Bouquets. "I remember each minute of the earthquake, and I was worried that instead of a storm this was another earthquake - and maybe the last one: the end of the world."

Protecting children in disasters

Teams from Plan are on the ground, dealing with the impact of the storm. As well as handing out emergency kits to families in temporary shelters in the South East, national TV is broadcasting Plan messages on the importance of protecting children in disasters.

"The risk of floods, landslides and falling rock remains high," says John Chaloner, Plan Country Director in Haiti. Martine says she and the 95 other children living in her centre have been seriously shaken: "Anything can happen any time."

"Disasters affect children disproportionately - and repeated emergencies are stretching the resilience of Haitian children," says Dr Unni Krishnan, Plan's Head of Disaster Response and Preparedness."Psychosocial care and disasters risk reduction are vital ingredients of humanitarian and development work – both help children to prepare, equip them to absorb shocks and recover more quickly."

Working together

Plan is working in close collaboration with national and local authorities, as well as UN and international aid agencies. “Working together in coordination with others is a key lesson we have learnt from past disasters,” explains Dr Krishnan. As well as taking action to deal with the immediate problems including raising awareness about preventing cholera and child protection, we want to ensure that any repairs and rebuilding of schools will be sustainable. We are assessing the condition of schools damaged by the storm and will provide temporary classrooms where necessary.

In neighbouring Dominican Republic, also partially affected by the storm, Plan has put active monitoring and preparedness measures in place. Plan runs several disaster risk reduction and preparedness projects in both countries that share the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean.

Since 1973, Plan has been working with Haitian communities to improve the lives of children and their families. Plan’s programmes focus on education, healthcare, livelihoods, disaster risk reduction initiatives, and the participation of children and young people in child rights campaigns. The centre where Martine lives opened in 1996. Its main objective is to support vulnerable children - including street children, orphans and domestic workers - who are enrolled on education courses. Plan funds 60 per cent of the staff salaries and provides the centre with office supplies, computers and games - we are also planning to improve the supply of drinking water.

Find out more about our work in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

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