Most Haitians are no stranger to the country’s sometimes brutal rainy season. The majority of the land is vulnerable to natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods, particularly between April and October. More than 93% of the country and over 96% of the population have been exposed to natural disasters in recent years. Many are still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Matthew, which killed over 500 people and left more than 35,000 homeless. Both locals and expats should know how to protect themselves and their property against natural disasters during the Haitian rainy season. Here, we go over some tips on how to prepare for the upcoming wet months ahead.
Safeguard Your Home
Your home should be ready to withstand storms, hurricanes, and floods. Check the roof for leaks and make the necessary repairs. Clear out rooftop blockages too to make sure that there aren’t any obstructions in the rain gutters. If you live in an area that experiences constant flooding, consider elevating your home above flood level. You may want to consult an expert regarding this matter as it’s a big project that involves either lifting the house or building extensions.
Plan an Evacuation Route
Flooding can come on fast during a hurricane, and you may not have the time to find a route to safety at the time. You and your family should have a pre-established evacuation route with a safe destination, preferably at a higher elevation. It’s also a good idea to periodically practice your evacuation so that everybody knows exactly what to do in an emergency.
Pack an Emergency Supply Kit
During heavy rains and flooding, you may not be able to make it to the market for essentials. Even if you are able to travel, hurricane warnings often result in stores selling out of emergency items. You should always have a pack on hand in an easily accessible place that includes:
- Nonperishable food such as canned goods, MRE packs, and dehydrated meals
- Enough drinking water for three days
- Candles or lamps, fuel, and matches
- A first aid kit
- Extra clothing and blankets
- Extra bottles of any prescription medications
- Home and vehicular repair tools such as duct tape, screwdrivers, and more
- Comfort items for children
Take Out an Insurance Policy
Though the private insurance market in Haiti is small, it’s still a good idea to purchase a home plan that covers flooding and hurricane damage. Many homeowner policies don’t cover water damage automatically, so you may have to add flood insurance to your plan separately. If your home sustains damage and you aren’t covered, the Haitian government provides a level of coverage for all of its citizens as a member of the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF).
Before the rainy season hits, it’s vital that locals and expats alike to prepare themselves for the oncoming weather. Flooding and hurricanes are fairly common during this time and can affect families living throughout the entire country. You should ensure that you have an evacuation plan in place, an emergency supply kit packed, and a flood insurance policy to protect yourself financially from property damage.