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International Medical Corps Mobilizes Teams, Supplies Across Haiti in Preparation for Tropical Storm Tomas
Date:11/4/2010

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Nov. 4, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Tropical Storm Tomas, which is projected to hit Port-au-Prince and other earthquake-affected areas in the west, poses a serious danger for Haiti's more than one million displaced. Tropical storm conditions can result in extremely strong winds, heavy rainfall, flash floods and mudslides which could devastate the temporary tent shelters, spread waterborne disease, and isolate towns and villages along Haiti's coast and in its mountainous areas.  International Medical Corps is working to prepare communities in and around Port-au-Prince and the coastal cities of Petit Goave and Jacmel by distributing storm preparedness information, stockpiling and pre-positioning medicines and other essential supplies, and preparing our network of 14 primary health care clinics and medical teams to deliver lifesaving care following the storm.

"International Medical Corps is extremely concerned with the possibility that Tropical Storm Tomas may hit already vulnerable tent cities erected after the earthquake," says Dr. Jojo Cangao, International Medical Corps medical director in Haiti. "A storm of this projected magnitude could devastate the camps, cause widespread waterborne disease as well as hasten the spread of the cholera outbreak."

International Medical Corps has mobilized Emergency Response Teams and is educating at-risk communities in preparation for Tomas, which is expected to make landfall in Haiti as early as Thursday late afternoon. Additional medical supplies are also being delivered at an accelerated pace to Cholera Emergency Response Teams in Artibonite, in Haiti's northern region, so that the ongoing response to the recent cholera outbreak can continue. International Medical Corps has also positioned a medical team in Les Cayes and is preparing its boat clinic to access isolated and cut-off coastal villages west of Petit Goave following the storm.

International Medical Corps is also planning to expand boat clinic operations, which currently provide primary medical care, and water and sanitation services to five isolated coastal communities west of Petit Goave, to reach these areas with vital health care and supplies. International Medical Corps is a key member of local and regional emergency planning and preparedness groups, which have been meeting since Tomas was first identified as a potential threat. We also have been training community groups, including teachers associations and Boy Scouts, for months in preparation for hurricane season as part of our ongoing disaster risk reduction work.

The tropical storm could also worsen Haiti's cholera outbreak by flooding already contaminated water sources, spreading the epidemic further. International Medical Corps is working with donors and partners to send additional medicines and supplies to handle higher case numbers, and mobilizing doctors and nursing professionals in the event the outbreak does spread.   International Medical Corps has already redeployed two full clinic medical teams to the northern areas where the cholera outbreak is most prevalent, and employed nurses and doctors to augment already stretched medical staff at hospitals and clinics in the region.

International Medical Corps has extensive experience providing relief in the aftermath of devastating weather related events including the Indian Ocean tsunami, Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Mitch in Honduras.  We are currently responding in St. Lucia where Tomas struck on Saturday morning as a Category 1 Hurricane, killing 12 people, greatly damaging homes and medical facilities, and washing away vital roads and bridges.  International Medical Corps' local team is conducting an assessment of local health needs and replenishing critical supplies lost in the storm.

Since its inception nearly 25 years ago, International Medical Corps' mission has been consistent: relieve the suffering of those impacted by war, natural disaster, and disease, by delivering vital health care services that focus on training. This approach of helping people help themselves is critical to returning devastated populations to self-reliance. For more information, visit: www.InternationalMedicalCorps.org.


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SOURCE International Medical Corps
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