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Aid workers prep Haiti's tent city residents for Isaac's onlsaught

Those considered most vulnerable were urged to move into an evacuation camp housed in a school building, but others with nowhere else to go were digging trenches to avoid the water. Haiti's population remains especially vulnerable due to the country's sprawling shanty towns. NBC's Mark Potter reports.

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti – As the winds picked up strength in Haiti, concern grew Friday among dozens of aid workers trying to prepare more than 400,000 tent city residents to face Tropical Storm Isaac.

Gallons of water and emergency kits were loaded swiftly into trucks at the American Red Cross headquarters in Port au Prince.

The head of the organization in Haiti, Sandrine Capelle Manuel, said her main concern is flooding and mudslides.


Handout / Reuters

Members of the International Organization for Migration register displaced people who will take shelter at a school before the arrival of Tropical Storm Isaac in Port au Prince, Haiti, on Friday.

“Over 80 percent of the people are living under the poverty line, and a lot of people are living on no-built areas on the bottom of a ravine,” she said.

Just a few miles east, at a camp in the suburb of Pétion-Ville, hundreds of earthquake survivors received leaflets with drawings showing how to better secure their tents during the storm. They have been homeless since January 12, 2010, when an earthquake crumbled their homes and took more than 200,000 lives.

Chiara Lucchini Gilera, is the Camp and Relocations Program Manager for J/P HRO, the relief organization trying to help those evacuees survive Isaac.

Isaac to hit Haiti overnight; tropical storm watch for southern Florida

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“I expect to find people without places, with lots of things washed away,” Gilera said.

Workers for the non-profit organization founded by American actor Sean Penn plan to shelter the most vulnerable -- the handicapped, pregnant women and the elderly -- at the camp school, but the rest will have to be turned away because there is not enough room.

The American Red Cross estimated there are at least 557 tent cities remaining in Haiti since the earthquake and no place for most of the people in those camps to seek shelter.

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