Aid workers brace for worst from Irma

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – A Canadian aid worker in Haiti says she’s concerned Hurricane Irma could deal a crippling blow to the impoverished country while it’s still recovering from Hurricane Matthew, which struck less than a year ago.

Laura Sewell of Ottawa, assistant country director in Haiti for CARE, says Haiti is less able to handle the effects of a Category 5 storm than other countries in the region.

Sewell made the comments today from Port-au-Prince, where aid agencies are preparing for the worst from Irma, which has already caused major flooding and destroyed buildings on several Caribbean islands.

Air Transat says it sent 10 planes to the Dominican Republic, which neighbours Haiti on the island of Hispaniola, to pick up passengers ahead of Irma.

Much of Haiti’s south was damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Matthew when it struck the island last October, killing more than 500 people.

Haiti is one of the poorest nations in the Americas, making it more vulnerable than its wealthier Caribbean neighbours to natural disasters.

CARE said it has dispatched teams of aid workers to at least seven of Haiti’s 10 provinces and has been stockpiling emergency supplies, including water purification tablets and tarps, that can be used for shelter.