Thunderstorm wreaks havoc in Haiti

Salvation Army reacts after damaging storm.

Major Jean Hurbert Murat dedicating a baby born after the earthquake. [Photo by Yves Montoban]

The Salvation Army in Haiti responded quickly after a thunderstorm hit Port-au-Prince on Sept. 24, 2010. Hurricane-force winds and torrential rain battered the city, where more than a million people still live in makeshift shelters following the January earthquake. The immediate concern was for loss of life and injury in the camps. Five people were reported killed and many others injured, with possibly up to 5,000 tents damaged or destroyed.

An assessment at the Place de la Paix camp managed by The Salvation Army—currently home to around 13,000 people—indicated no loss of life but many injuries and a large number of shelters damaged or destroyed. Captain Monael Many, camp management director, contacted the camp committee; together they sought out the families hardest hit by the storm.

A shipment of tents from The Salvation Army’s Canada and Bermuda Territory was scheduled to arrive in April but was delayed and only released from the port on the day of the storm. In fact, Brian Burditt, the territory’s world mission consultant and former director of the world mission and development office, was in Port-Au-Prince and witnessed the storm. He has agreed that the tents be distributed as quickly as possible to those affected by the storm.

So far this year, Haiti has escaped a direct hit by hurricane or tropical storm, but the hurricane season lasts until November. The recent storm was not a tropical storm, but instead an early-fall storm typical of the region.

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