Heavy rains pelting Haiti in early June triggered flash floods and mudslides, leading to the deaths of at least 25 people. The rains came just a week into the official start of the Atlantic Hurricane Season on June 1, and demonstrate the severe devastation this hurricane season is likely to bring.
Haiti is still reeling from last year’s earthquake, which displaced millions, killed hundreds of thousands and severely damaged the country’s infrastructure. Millions still live in displacement camps, with nothing more than plastic tents to serve as shelter from the torrential rains. Dozens had to be evacuated as their camps flooded.
These rains and the upcoming hurricane season are also likely to worsen the cholera epidemic in the country, which has already affected 321,066 people and killed 5,337. Cholera is a water-borne disease caused by bacteria that breeds in dirty, standstill water, which in the aftermath of the rains blankets many of Haiti’s displacement camps.
MADRE has been working with KOFAVIV, a local Haitian grassroots women’s organization before and since last year’s earthquake. A few days ago, they updated us on the situation on the ground, calling it “critical” and reporting that many KOFAVIV agents living in the camps have lost their homes in the flooding.
The rains have subsided for now, but as we look ahead to the devastation that this hurricane season may yet bring, it is important that we support relief efforts that include women and listen to their demands. As pillars of their communities, women know how best to rebuild. And as they continue their tireless work to rebuild neighborhoods and deliver lifesaving aid a year and a half after the earthquake hit, no one is better prepared to spring into action when the next disaster strikes.