Sunday, June 06, 2010


I know we're having big problems out in the Gulf.  A lot has been said about what kind of potential disaster a hurricane out in the middle of Lake Palin there would do.  But there's another place that's praying even harder that there's no hurricane this season to hit the Gulf this year.


You remember, massive earthquake, untold structural damage, millions forced to live in tent cities Haiti?  Still there.  Still in tent cities.  Hurricane season there is a whole other special circle of Hell now.
But for every location where gravel and sandbags have been laid to save lives in case of dangerous flooding, there are dozens of camps like Marassa 14, where nothing has been done to prepare for hurricane season. Hundreds of blue and white tarp-covered shacks crowd a low-lying, flood-prone ravine. 

“They want us to leave, but we will not leave here,” said Adrienne Francois, 60, among the 3,000 residents of the camp near Croix-des-Bouquets, just outside the capital. “We are at the mercy of God. We can leave, and still end up under tarps.” 

Tuesday was the official start of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season, and a disaster-prone Haiti is far from ready for what meteorologists predict will be a heightened storm season with at least 15 named storms. 

Some 1.5 million homeless earthquake victims remain under tents and tarps in at least 1,200 camps across the country. Roads remain cluttered with rubble. The Haitian government has designated only two new emergency relocation camps. And few hurricane-resistant transitional houses have been built as the government and international aid groups continue to wrestle with land issues: how to get more of it, how to put up temporary houses, and how to get camp dwellers with safe homes to return or seek higher ground. 

“When we first started this operation ... we hoped that we would be able to build a significant number of transitional shelters by the start of the hurricane season,” said Alex Wynter of the International Federation of Red Cross. “We’ve made up our minds that we are going to have to face the emergency or the potential emergency of the rainy season and the hurricane season in the camps.”
Problem's still there, folks.  So's the suffering and the squalid poverty.  Should, God forbid, a hurricane hit Haiti this summer, the loss of life is going to be catastrophic.  Hurricanes in a country with moderately flimsy buildings is one thing.  Hurricanes in a country where earthquakes have ravaged most of the buildings and the people are in tent cities in low-lying ravines...

I fear the problems in Haiti may be just beginning.  As bad as things are on the Gulf Coast -- and these are massive problems, not to take anything away from those who are suffering there -- there's Haiti's problems as well.

Keep them in mind too, if you can.

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