News Alert: Mercy Corps Haiti Prepares for Hurricane Elsa, First of the Season

Mercy Corps’ Haiti team is preparing for Hurricane Elsa, the first official hurricane of the Atlantic hurricane season, as it strengthens and is projected to pass over the southern part of Haiti on Saturday. The majority of people in southern Haiti live on less than $2 a day. Haiti’s coastal areas are affected by heavy deforestation, and are especially prone to flooding and landslides. 

Today we are launching SMS alerts to 7,500 Haitian families around Port-au-Prince to help people prepare, with messaging around shelter locations, where to meet family if separated, how to protect homes and how to keep important documents safe.

Justin Colvard, Mercy Corps’ Haiti Country Director says:

“This is just the beginning of what could be a very long and troubling hurricane season after a historic number of hurricanes last year. Farmers are in the middle of the spring harvest and have also been preparing their land for planting maize, beans and millet. More than half of the population depends on agriculture for their income. Any damage to farms or livestock could make the difference of eating or not for the next few months. Rural farmers and city dwellers alike have struggled with the economic impacts of COVID-19. If they are hit with a severe storm or hurricane, it could devastate what little they do have. Natural hazards, which are worsening because of climate change, compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic are disproportionately impacting vulnerable Haitians.” 

“From past experiences, we know that after an emergency people will need food, shelter, water and cash, which enables people to purchase what they need most while also boosting local economies. After initial hurricane relief efforts we also try to quickly shift to helping people recover their sources of income. For example, getting new crops in the ground or replenishing lost inventory and assets for their small business.”

Mercy Corps has worked in Haiti since 2010 and following Hurricane Matthew in 2016, which left 750,000 people in need of humanitarian assistance, helped 90,000 people recover by distributing urgently needed supplies, establishing clean water points in communities and providing seeds and saplings to replant lost trees. Mercy Corps has 70 dedicated team members working in Haiti, of whom 64 are Haitian.