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Hurricane Matthew Could Bring 'Tsunami of Cholera' to Haiti


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As Hurricane Matthew threatens Haiti, Operation Blessing International's team on the ground is preparing to help disaster victims.

In addition to the threat of high winds and torrential rains is the danger of a possible cholera outbreak.

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"Cholera exists in water, in contaminated water. In Haiti there's very little public sanitation," Bill Horan, president of Operation Blessing International, told CBN News. "Most folks have latrines, outhouses. Even in rainy season, these things overflow, and that's when the cholera spikes."

"Now when the flood comes, and all this water is going to inundate... there's going to be disease-laden human waste all over the place. So we're really, really worried about that," he continued.

"Based on the rainfall predictions and how slow this storm is moving, we fear that Matthew will bring a tsunami of cholera cases unseen since post-earthquake days," Horan said.

Related Story: Rainy Season Brings More Cholera to Haiti

Team leaders at the OB Haiti headquarters in Port au Prince have ramped up chlorine production in advance of the storm. OB Haiti can produce 1,200 gallons of chlorine per day, which will be used for surface disinfection on a large scale and to sanitize water for drinking. 

The 1,200 gallons of chlorine can also potentially disinfect up to 3.6 million gallons of drinking water. Most of it is expected to be used for surface disinfection.

"For surface disinfection, we'll distribute that to hospitals, clinics, churches, schools, orphanages, and residences," Horan told CBN News. "And with that, they can disinfect this terrible bacteria."

"The cholera is killed cold by this chlorine; chlorine touches it, it's dead," he continued. "So we're going to get as much of that out. Of course we're doing other things but that is our focus right now."

In addition to producing chlorine, the OB Haiti team is purchasing supplies such as emergency rations and tarps, as many homes in Haiti are made of dried mud that will not survive the storm.

OB Haiti has also prepared a boat for rescue operations, and the charity has set up both of the school buildings it owns as emergency shelters.

The organization operates a home for disabled children in Haiti, and Horan said leaders are very concerned about potential flooding because a river runs near the home.

"We would sure ask anyone watching to pray for the people of Haiti, to please pray for the people in the path of this terrible storm before it ever, heaven forbid, gets to the United States," Horan said.

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