Aid Flows into Haiti, Dominican Rep. Following Noel

November 9, 2007

SANTO DOMINGO – The number of communities left cut off by Tropical Storm Noel has risen to 100 in the Dominican Republic, while aid continues to arrive for the thousands affected by the storm.

The situation is the same in neighboring Haiti, where thousands are still packed into shelters, and officials in both countries fear an outbreak of disease, especially among children.

Dominican health officials said in their latest bulletin that 84 people were killed by the storm and 66,848 were forced from their homes, of whom nearly 24,000 remain at shelters in 15 provinces.

Noel hit the Dominican Republic Oct. 26, dropping more than 20 inches of rain that caused flooding and landslides. The flooding and mudslides destroyed homes, bridges and waterworks while inflicting considerable crop and livestock losses.

Operations continue to try to assist residents of the communities still cut off by floodwaters.

“The situation of the 100 communities is that we can reach them only by air.We have been able to provide them with food, clothing and medicines by using helicopters,” said Juan Manuel Méndez, director of the state’s emergency services agency.

In Santo Domingo, water service is operating at 85%, but only 38 of the 155 waterworks damaged across the Caribbean nation have been repaired, utility officials said.

The Health Ministry, meanwhile, reported an increase in cases of gastrointestinal and eye diseases at some shelters, and evacuees are being vaccinated for a variety of communicable diseases.

Foreign aid has been arriving steadily and helping to get food, medicines, clothing, personal-care items and bottled water to victims.

The Spanish International Cooperation Agency, or AECI, said it was sending a plane carrying eight tons of humanitarian aid for storm victims in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

The aid shipment, which includes water and medical equipment, was donated by AECI, the Spanish Red Cross, and other Spanish and international non-governmental organizations.

The plane was scheduled to arrive Monday in Port-au-Prince to unload part of its cargo, before flying on to the Dominican Republic. The European Commission agreed Nov. 2 to provide 1.5 million euros ($2.17 million) in emergency humanitarian aid for those displaced by Noel in the Dominican Republic.

The funds, channeled through the Humanitarian Aid Office of the European Commission, or ECHO, will allow the most urgent needs to be covered for close to 100,000 people in the areas hardest hit by the floods.

Officials in Haiti said Saturday that they had found the body of a man, raising the death toll from Noel to 49.

The head of Oxfam’s office in Haiti, Yolette Etienne, said that aid was arriving with “difficulty” at shelters despite the government’s disbursement of $1 million to help storm victims.

“Our organization has already donated $20,000 in places like the southeast and southwest of the country,” Etienne said, adding that the non-governmental organization planned to contribute some $650,000 to help rebuild areas in Haiti.

 

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