Posts Tagged ‘Flood’


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.


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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.

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