Haiti prime minister warns of triple disaster as hurricane Tomas hits
With Haiti recovering from an earthquake and cholera outbreak as hurricane Tomas hit, Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive told the Monitor, 'It’s just piling on us, just making bigger and bigger problems.'
In Pictures Tropical storm Tomas
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
"It's not like we had the earthquake, then cholera, and now a hurricane," he told the Monitor in an interview Thursday at his private residence in Pétionville. "We still have the consequences of the earthquake, we are facing the cholera ... and now we’re preparing for the hurricane coming, so it’s just piling on us, just making bigger and bigger problems."
In October, a cholera outbreak in the countryside claimed more than 440 lives and infected thousands more people. It has so far been prevented from spreading to Port-au-Prince, devastated in January's earthquake that killed 300,000 people.
But since the earthquake, Mr. Bellerive says, the Haitian government has learned much from 10 months of relief efforts and was able to prepare for the worst in anticipation of Tomas.
"We have more experience, we have better coordination with NGOs and the humanitarian community, and also we have from day one – and even from day minus one, three or four – the government forewarning," says Bellerive. "Nobody could anticipate the earthquake, or the date of the cholera epidemic. But the hurricane we had days to prepare."
Aid groups and the Haitian government were this week stockpiling tents, water purification equipment, and other emergency supplies around the country. US Southern Command ordered the USS Iwo Jima to Haiti to provide poststorm support.