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Church World Service pre-positions storm aid as Tomas threatens Haiti, DR

NEW YORK – Humanitarian agency Church World Service is making plans for a response in Haiti and the Dominican Republic if Tropical Storm Tomas hits the island of Hispaniola.

CWS, which has a long history of emergency response and development work in both countries, including responding to the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti, has determined “what we can provide in material resources from pre-positioned supplies, making contact with local partners to do assessments and pre-identifying some immediate sources of transportation services, if needed,” said Donna Derr, CWS’s director of development and humanitarian assistance.

“The UN has noted a shortage of tarps in Haiti for emergency shelter needs,” said CWS Haiti Program Coordinator Aaron Tate. That may be an issue if Tomas lands with any intensity. “Fortunately Church World Service and its partners have been able to pre-position about 10,000 tarps and a sizeable stock of hygiene kits for immediate needs.”

CWS will provide post-storm assistance first to those in need in the specific vulnerable communities the agency has been assisting since the January disaster, including people with disabilities in Port-au-Prince, and then as needed to augment efforts of members of the ACT Alliance also working in Haiti.

“If this were a Category 1 hurricane in Houston,” said Tate, “it wouldn’t be so threatening. But this is Haiti.”

In terms of Haiti’s overall preparedness for a hurricane, “There was no giant plan here,” said Tate.

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