Darren Gill from Architecture for Humanity's Haiti office sends an update on the damage afflicted by Hurricane Sandy in the Caribbean and in Haiti in particular. Despite wide and recent experience to post-disaster protocols, Haiti is not yet in a position to be prepared for disaster before it strikes. Darren discusses this in some detail.
"There's a good bit to report based on what local and international media are saying, as well as technical reports from Shelter Cluster and the WHO [World Health Organization]. There was extensive flooding across the southern penninsula and in parts of Port-au-Prince (Tabarre, Cite Soleil, and Croix des Bouquets in particular). The Prime Minister of Haiti and others conducted an assessment last week and a recovery strategy is being proposed this week. Several disaster reponse agencies unleashed a full-on emergency response handing out food, tarps, shelters, etc., in addition to the thousands that were evacuated and made homeless."
"Haiti is a country ill-equipped but all too pre-disposed to disaster," Darren continues. "Its people respond resiliently but simply don't have the resources to be prepared or respond. The hurricane didn't pass through Haiti, yet it accounted for the largest number of fatalities and immediate consequences in the Caribbean region. Most of the flood waters drained away within a week or so, as the immediate threat passed. However, bridges were knocked out as far north as Montrouis. Existing road works on Rue Canape Vert were badly affected, which forced the closure of the road for several days as work crews went in to redo the work. It appears the biggest long-term threat is food shortages as significant areas of crop land were destroyed. Only time will tell the full effects of this."
Overview Map: Building damage assessment in Butte Boyer, Tabarre, Haiti (IOM - International Organization for Migration)
But Darren notes that disaster response has been improving. "One of the more encouraging aspects of this event by comparison to Hurricane Irene was the speed at which the state was able to respond. By 10am the following morning work crews from EDH (Haiti's Electricity Network operator) were out fixing downed electricity lines, though it was about 5-6 days before electricity was restored to those connected to the grid."
Of course there's room for improvement, especially Haiti's warning systems. "The first mass communication via text message to the population came from Digicel and was the evening before the storm. Too late."
If there is a silver lining to any of this, it's that none of our school projects have been damaged, and we are not aware of anyone in the schools' communities being hurt.