Hurricane Sandy puts renewed pressure on food supply in Haiti (+video)
Before arriving in the United States, Sandy lingered over flood-prone Haiti for three days, sparking concerns about food security and risk of cholera.
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Before turning its sights on the United States, Hurricane Sandy left a fresh disaster in Haiti, killing dozens and flooding cities and farmland. The storm set off fears of renewed challenges, including spiking food prices and a new cholera outbreak.
Sandy lingered over Haiti for three days, dumping sheets of rain on a flood-prone country where some 370,000 survivors of the January 2010 earthquake still live in makeshift homes and tents.
Government officials said at least 52 people died and 15 were still missing after the rains swamped wide swaths of land, particularly in the south, an important crop-growing region. News agencies reported that at least 18,000 people were in temporary shelters.
“In and around the [southern] city of Les Cayes, there is flooding everywhere,” says Pélèg Charles, a spokesman for the charity Oxfam UK, from his office in the capital Port-au-Prince. “It’s disastrous.… But we won’t know how bad it really is for several days.”
Contaminated water and devastated crops
Mr. Charles says that Oxfam has already received reports of some 150 new cases of cholera since the storm pulled out of the Caribbean this weekend. “We will not know for five to seven days if there is a new outbreak,” he says, “but we’re very worried about the spread.”
Cholera can spread quickly in contaminated water, and has killed more than 7,000 Haitians and sickened hundreds of thousands others since an outbreak began in October 2010.