Frank here. I just wanted to post some pictures to help people see what we have been seeing. While on shoots for my job we get to see a lot of the stuff you hear about in the news…wait, we are producing the news. Anyways.
Yesterday we started the day by going to a tent city nestled between the Port-au-Prince airport and Cite Sole, which is one of the poorest, and most dangerous, parts of town. The reason we went to this camp was because the night before there had been a terrible rain storm, and the camp had flooded.
The government estimates that 20% of the over 400 tent camps in Port-au-Prince are at risk of flood damage. I personally think that’s a very conservative estimate. Most of the camps lie on dirt which soon turns to mud, and some camps we’ve seen are precariously perched on the sides of very steep hills, a large storm away from being swept away.
But flooding is a problem for many reasons, the most obvious of which is sanitation. Because some camps have no toilets or latrines, these storms leave puddles of human waste everywhere, and because most of the children have no shoes they are forced to walk through it to get from tent to tent.
Another reason why the rains are worrisome is the spread of disease. Already the UN is seeing an uptick in the cases of malaria, which will continue to rise while people are consistently living outside by standing water. Apparently this is not out of the ordinary during the runup to the rainy season, as more mosquitoes are inevitably going to be present, but these living conditions don’t help the situation.
But even though the living situation is dire, and the camp is filled with mud and sewage, the children LOVE to see pictures of themselves. Of course I oblige.
From there we went back to our home base at a hotel located near the airport. It was a slower day and I had a lot of things to do with Jillian so they let me go home. On my way up Delmas, which is one of the major roads through the city up to Petionville, we saw a large plume of smoke in the distance. It turns out it was the Caribbean Market which had caught fire. We pulled over to take a look and what we saw was the remnants of what used to be the grocery store where Jillian and I bought most of our food.
The building had collapsed in the quake, which didn’t really surprise me when I found out the next day. I remember on the night of the quake driving up Delmas and waiting to pass it, but after getting to the top of the hill thinking I had missed seeing it.
Because I was new to the neighborhood, I used the Caribbean Market as an indicator that we were approaching the turn towards our old home. Now I know why I missed it. You can read an article about the rescue efforts there at this link.
The grocery store was HUGE, which makes the picture above so much more incredible. The ceilings of this place loomed almost 3 stories above the isles of food, and there was a loading dock below the floor of the market that left another 2 stories of empty space below it. When the roof collapsed, the entire grocery store dropped another 40 feet, a recipe for disaster.
The friends we are staying with now had planned to go to the Market to pick up some food for dinner the night of the quake, but forgot to stop as they were passing by. They decided to keep going, and ten minutes later the earthquake hit while they were pouring glasses of wine in their kitchen. Needless to say, their house is fine.
It was hard to see this place as a pile of rubble, and now on fire. When I spoke to many of you when we were in the States I mentioned how all the building you thought would collapse in an earthquake collapsed, and many of the buildings you thought would survive, collapsed as well. This is a prime example of a building that I never anticipated would have collapsed.
So that was my day yesterday, nothing crazy, but a little intense. I do get angry at times when it seems that no one is coming to help. Why was there no one to help these people who were sinking into filth in their tent city? Why wasn’t anyone coming to put out the fire at the Caribbean Market? I keep telling myself that the help is there but we just keep missing it, but I’m afraid there may be times when that may not be the case.