Wednesday 07 November 2012
ShelterBox rushes to identify unmet needs in the Wake of Hurricane Sandy
ShelterBox has been working to identify emergency shelter needs in the United States, Haiti and Cuba in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Sandy ripped through Cuba and Haiti before it reached the United States, destroying livelihoods and infrastructure with its high winds, heavy rains and flooding. The US Northeast is now expected to be impacted again with high winds, flooding and snow from Nor’easter Athena.
ShelterBox, which responds to disasters such as earthquake, volcano, flood, hurricane, cyclone, tsunami or conflict, has deployed highly trained ShelterBox Response Teams (SRT) to identify emergency shelter and other non-food needs in the three affected countries for the thousands of impacted families.
The organization typically delivers emergency shelter and other supplies, including disaster relief tents, water filtration systems, cook-stoves, blankets and other tools that help families survive and rebuild their lives in the aftermath of disaster.
The organization is focusing on ensuring vulnerable families have adequate temporary shelter and other emergency supplies. As temperatures drop, ensuring families are protected from cold weather is a priority.
“We’ve been working with partners and other aid agencies in the area and have identified a need for warm blankets,” said Ryan Lampasona, a ShelterBox volunteer leading the organization’s response.
“We’re working as quickly as possible and have just distributed the first of our blankets to special needs evacuees at Suffolk County Health Services.”
In the next few days, the team will be focusing on the most impacted areas in New Jersey and New York to distribute blankets and identify other unmet needs.
Hurricane Sandy damaged around 200,000 houses, including 50,000 that lost their roofs, and destroyed over 15,000 homes, affecting about 1.1 million people, according to the latest United Nations (UN) estimations. At least 11 lives were also lost.
Cuba is frequently lauded by the UN as being one of the best prepared countries in terms of natural disasters. Its highly developed meteorological service, early warning system and regularly practiced drills have probably saved thousands of lives, but buildings were in poor repair before the storm due to lack of funds and materials and were vulnerable to damage.
Lack of electricity and poor communications have hampered efforts to get reliable information about the full extent of the damage in the Caribbean country. A ShelterBox Response Team is working in country to assess the need for emergency aid.
Haiti was struck with more than 20 inches of rain over three days, causing flooding and mudslides and leaving more than 50 people dead.
Low-lying communities in western Haiti that were still recovering from damage caused by Tropical Storm Isaac in August are the worst affected areas, according to various reports.
Some villages have been destroyed in the floods and there is a threat of cholera spreading due to unsanitary conditions.
ShelterBox has been in contact with Haiti's government and other operational partners to assess the need for emergency shelter. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is storing prepositioned ShelterBoxes in country for ShelterBox in preparation.
Each ShelterBox not only contains a disaster relief tent but also a LifeStraw, which is an easy-to-use portable water filter that effectively removes all bacteria and parasites responsible for causing common diarrheal diseases, including cholera.
Since 2000, ShelterBox has provided shelter, warmth and dignity following more than 180 disasters in over 80 countries. ShelterBox’s American affiliate, ShelterBox USA is headquartered in Sarasota, Florida. Individual tax-deductible donations to ShelterBox USA can be made at www.shelterboxusa.org, 941-907-6036 or via text message by sending SHELTER to 20222 for a one-time $10 donation.