Well, Hurricane Tomas came and went, and just like an overhyped sequel, it was a relative dud in the capital city of Port-au-Prince. While it did rain for about 24 hours straight here, Hurricane Tomas did most of its damage in the western coastal towns of Les Cayes, Jeremie, and Leogane. In Les Cayes, they were forced to evacuate the prison and hospital as flood waters covered the city. In Jeremie one person was swept away in rushing flood waters when he tried to drive through a gushing river (not too smart, but you still have to feel bad for the guy). In Leogane, where I went on Saturday, the downtown streets had turned into a constant flow of muddy, brown water that was at times almost 4 feet high.
The patients on the first floor of the hospital in Leogane were forced to be moved onto the upper floors of the building after the first floor became covered in inches of running water. And while some tent camps were completely flooded, others were stranded after bridges went out. The only way to know if those camps were OK was by calling their cell phones, but luckily many of those camps were just fine.
But the bottom line is that, in the end, only 6 people died. A hurricane that many people (me included) were saying could be the next major disaster in Haiti turned out to a relatively normal storm that caused some major flooding in towns that are used to it. Leogane floods all the time, it sits in a flood plain. Jacmel, Les Cayes and Jeremie are all coastal towns that have been hit by hurricanes and tropical storms dozens of times in the past. While it’s a terrible, terrible situation, Haiti really dodge a bullet.
For Jillian and I, we will now take down the tarps that we used to cover the open holes in our kitchen that our landlady calls windows. It was a little scary when we thought the storm could smash into PAP, as it would obviously bring the potential of making the 1.3 million people living in tents homeless again, but like I’ve said before, this storm has just given NGOs another reason to go into tent camps, reminding them that life always sucks when you live in a tent, but it especially sucks when you live in a wet tent.
So you can all breathe easy now knowing that our roof is still safely attached to the top of our house. Jillian, Olie, Beatrice, and I are all safe, and Mom, you can stop calling me now…we’re going to be just fine.