Haiti – Tropical Storm Tomas – Important Update
Friday, November 5, 2010, will likely be another date of devastation in Haiti. The tiny, hurting nation of Haiti is about to get battered – again – amidst the chaos of earthquake ruins and a cholera outbreak.
Predicted by experts to be one of the most active hurricane seasons in decades, this hurricane season neared its close quietly and counter to predictions. Until now.
Tropical Storm Tomas blew in from the Atlantic heading west and well to the south of Haiti, decreasing in strength. In recent days, the storm rallied in strength, turned on its right blinker, and made a sharp right turn (more than 90 degrees) to go north-northeast running roughshod over the entirety of Haiti, where masses remain homeless and in tents. Tomas may re-reach hurricane status by later today. Absent another unexpected turn (which we’re praying for, but not relying upon), Haiti enters another Code Blue state.
We expect to see sustained winds of 50-70 mph, which will devastate the tent cities in and around Port au Prince. The biggest expected problem will be the water. We’ve been through hurricanes in Haiti, up close and personal. What hurts the most is the rain. When a storm system (whether hurricane, tropical storm, or tropical depression) camps out over Haiti and dumps rain, look out. The island’s de-forrested and the ground is hardpan. There’s nowhere for that water to go. Dried river beds swell to overflowing in an instant. New rivers (we’ve seen them 2 or 3 football fields wide) flash out from the mountains and drive to the sea. The sea level rises with all the new water, creating a tsunami effect in low lying areas.
It’s all that water that hurts the most. And Tomas is expected to dump an awful lot of it – up to 15 inches in some areas – on Haiti in a quick burst.
The adverse impact on the camps in PaP is obvious, and the subject of much media coverage. Specific to us, our primary concern are the children’s villages, particularly in and around Les Cayes in the south. Cayes is expected to receive a direct hit in the wee hours of Friday morning. A flash flood earlier this year from a quick rain burst hammered the children’s villages in Casa Major, Cavaillon, and Cherette – displacing the children and staff at those locations. We’re expecting more water in a shorter time period on Friday.
Moise and Alan Dietrich are in Haiti as we speak. Trace Thurlby is en route. Our leaders are in contact with all village leaders in Cayes, have authorized the use of emergency funds for additional food purchase in advance of the storm, and are advising the evacuation of children and staff from those areas that have been hit before. Of course, the local leadership of El Shaddai have shown remarkable preparedness in past emergency situations, and we have great confidence in them today. That is one of El Shaddai’s great strengths – grassroots emergency response through the local church.
El Shaddai’s leadership is surely engaged the best they can be, just as we are. But now the burden falls to the local level. It always does.
At this point, other than the steps we’ve taken, we must direct our prayers to the local leadership of each church and children’s village. What happens with the weather is beyond their control. However, the local leadership will undoubtedly have to make huge and fast decisions – with the children and with others in their communities. They will be in position Alpha, not big aid groups or the government who’ll be front and center with the media. Please pray for the local leaders’ discernment, direction, leadership, calm, clarity, and strength.
God is, indeed, in control – even when we don’t understand. We trust in that, though we certainly do not understand all that’s happening in an exasperated Haiti.
We will keep you posted.
Thanks for your faithful support and prayers.