Port-Au-Prince: Aid workers rushed Monday to prepare for a hurricane that forecasters said could hit Haiti this week. It`s a formidable challenge in a nation already coping with a cholera epidemic and trying to help hundreds of thousands still living in tent camps nearly 10 months after a devastating earthquake.
Many people in the camps said they didn`t know Tropical Storm Tomas might be coming, but there was little they could do living in flimsy shelters to protect themselves from the elements.
"I didn`t know about (the storm). Maybe somebody came by to say something yesterday when I was out," said Florence Ramond, a 22-year-old mother and food vendor who is living on the Petionville Club golf course in a refugee camp managed by actor Sean Penn`s relief organization.
Even knowing, Ramond said, she could do nothing to secure her home, a shack made of tarp, wood and a tin door. The roof blew off in an unnamed Sept. 24 storm that ripped through the capital, killing at least five people and destroying or damaging thousands of tents.
"They always go around and tell us to tie the tarps up, but I don`t have a rope," she said.
The family lost their home in the earthquake, which killed Ramond`s niece. Her brother, Joel, is hospitalized with cholera in the Artibonite Valley — part of an epidemic that has killed more than 300 people and hospitalized more than 4,700.
Her infant son, Lovenson, has had bouts of diarrhea recently that she said are caused by mud flowing into their shelter. His first birthday was Monday, which was also the first day of Haiti`s Voodoo festival of the dead, Fet Gede. Ramond said she doesn`t have money to celebrate either.
Those with more money have a better chance of being prepared. Leonide Paul said she had received news about the storm via an automated text message, and would go out and buy food, water and extra fuel to prepare.