Tropical Storm Isaac struck the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba over the weekend and continued into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening the U.S. Gulf Coast. The Associated Press has reported eight fatalities in Haiti and two in the Dominican Republic. Winds and flooding have destroyed and damaged tents that still house some survivors of the 2010 Haitian earthquake. There are news reports of damaged homes, flooding and mudslides in Port-au-Prince but the damage to structures in the city is not extreme. In northwestern Haiti, where CWS supports agricultural cooperatives, winds and rain have damaged houses, destroyed gardens and killed livestock. The poor construction of houses in this region has increased the impact of the disaster, with roofs blowing off and other serious structural damage.
In the Dominican Republic, the southwestern region was the most affected. The winds downed many trees and severely affected agricultural areas, such as banana plantations. The storm surge cut off a highway and downed electrical and telephone lines, cutting power to most of this region. In Cuba, Isaac struck the entire country and was especially intense in the east. Many families in vulnerable areas weathered the storm with friends or in storm shelters. CWS has not received reports of serious damage in Cuba.
Isaac is now expected to intensify to hurricane strength and approach the U.S. Gulf Coast tomorrow. A hurricane warning is in effect from the Florida Panhandle to Louisiana, including New Orleans. FEMA is warning that southeast Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama could see storm surges of 6 to 12 feet. Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida have all declared states of emergency.
CWS staff are currently gathering more information from our partners in Haiti, Cuba and the Dominican Republic regarding local needs. CWS may issue an appeal if necessary. CWS will monitor the continued impact of Isaac and respond to immediate and long-term needs.
How to help:
Contributions to support CWS emergency response efforts around the world may be made online, sent to your denomination, or to Church World Service, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515.
Church World Service is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of churches and agencies engaged in development, humanitarian assistance and advocacy.