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Haití nos necesita

Haití nos necesita…no hay refugio de la tormenta para las víctimas del terremoto Haití. Haiti need us…no shelter from the storm for Haiti quake victims.

No shelter from the storm for Haiti quake victims

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — A hur ri cane sea son pre dicted to be one of the wettest on record opens Tues day in the Caribbean, where hun dreds of thou sands of Hait ian earth quake vic tims have only tarps or fray ing tents to pro tect them in a major storm.

The Hait ian gov ern ment, which had five months to pre pare, says it’s still work ing on emer gency and evac u a­tion plans. But it is unclear where peo ple will go with many churches, schools and other poten tial shel ters top pled by the quake.

Since the Jan. 12 earth quake killed up to 300,000 peo ple and left more than 1.5 mil lion home less, there has been lit tle progress on clear ing rub ble so peo ple can return to their neigh bor hoods or build ing stur dier shelters.

Dr. Jean Pape, one of the country’s most promi nent pub lic health experts, esti mates that only 1 per cent of the masses stuck in dan ger ous flood zones have been relocated.

“There’s no give here. Time is just run ning out,” said Mark L. Schnei der, senior vice pres i dent of the Inter na­tional Cri sis Group. “There’s no ques tion that large num bers, tens of thou sands, are going to be in sit u a tions of mis ery when the rains come.”

Already, the mod er ate spring rains that drench Port-au-Prince almost daily leave camp res i dents up to their knees in putrid water.

Clau dia Tou s saint, a 24-year-old camped near a golf course, dug a shal low chan nel in the dirt under her tarp in a futile effort to keep water away from her mattress.

“When it rains, we don’t have any where to go, we don’t have any where to sleep,” she said. “We just get soaked.”

The prob lem goes beyond more mis ery in about 1,200 tem po rary camps. Vast num bers of peo ple are exposed to disease-carrying mos qui toes. Seri ous flood ing could cause mass casu al ties even with thou sands of aid work ers and U.N. peace keep ers present.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmos pheric Admin is tra tion has pre dicted as many as 23 named trop i cal storms, which would make this sea son one of the more active on record. The quake has forced Haiti to update its storm con tin gency plans, said Prime Min is ter Jean-Max Bel lerive, includ ing posi tion ing emer gency food and equipment.

A response team has been set up to deal with rain emer gen cies in camps.

“We don’t need a hur ri cane to have prob lems in Haiti, we just need three or four days of con tin u ous rain to have seri ous prob lems,” he said in an inter view with The Asso ci ated Press.

But Bel lerive couldn’t say how the plans are being updated. And he said the country’s con di tion remains “frag ile,” even though aid groups and gov ern ment offi cials have said since the quake that flood ing is a major loom ing disaster.

The Atlantic storm sea son always poses a risk in moun tain ous Haiti. Trop i cal Storm Jeanne killed nearly 3,000 peo ple in 2004, and a series of 2008 storms killed 800 — mostly in the country’s cen tral region north of Port-au-Prince.

The cap i tal city rarely gets a direct hit; it is pro tected by the moun tains that sep a rate Haiti from the Domini can Repub lic. But even mod est storms are deadly in this defor ested nation where entire cities are rou tinely plunged under water.

The inter na tional com mu nity and pri vate aid groups have pledged or deliv ered $3.1 bil lion to help Haiti after the earth quake and are promis ing nearly $10 bil lion more for reconstruction.

But so far, the gov ern ment has relo cated only about 7,000 vul ner a ble peo ple to two safer camps.

The relo ca tion is slow because the crip pled gov ern ment doesn’t have enough money to com plete a job that includes not just set ting up new tents, but pro vid ing work, schools and services.

“You can’t just move peo ple to a new loca tion and say ‘take care of your life.’” said Pape, direc tor of theGHESKIO clinic.

The Sal va tion Army has started build ing two-room shel ters for 600 fam i lies in the south ern town of Jacmel despite bureau cratic delays in get ting the mate r ial through Haiti’s ports.

The cement-secured wooden sup ports are designed to with stand winds of up to 30 mph, and the raised wooden floors to pre vent Haitians from risk ing dis ease by using water flow ing through their homes for hygiene and cook ing. They expect to com plete the struc tures within a month using Hait ian labor.

Pro test ers have crit i cized Pres i dent Rene Preval for a lack of progress in recon struc tion. Schnei der says all involved need to move faster.

“It’s not that peo ple are doing things that are wrong,” he said. “It’s that peo ple need to do the things that they are doing faster.”

Mag da line Oscar lives with her hus band and 6-year-old son in a trash-strewn road that leads to the capital’s main garbage dump. She showed vis i tors the murky water that pools under her tent and splashes through its torn sides. Dur ing storms, they flee to a neighbor’s shel ter, though many of the other tents in their encamp­ment are also now dam aged after five months of use.

“The wind and the water is destroy ing them,” said the 26-year-old. “I don’t think it will last much longer.”

Else where, peo ple are tak ing a do-it-yourself approach — adding cor ru gated steel and ply wood to homes first con structed from a few bed sheets and plas tic tarps. Leon Louis was con fi dent about his prospects as he set up a shanty in the Champs de Mars, the capital’s cen tral plaza.

“The rain might fall, but we’ll be in a sta ble place,” Louis said.

Asso ci ated Press writ ers Jonathan M. Katz and Yesica Fisch con tributed to this report.


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