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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- In the month since the worst disaster in Haitian history, an enormous international aid effort has not provided the people of Marassa 14 with the food, shelter and security
they need. So they built a new community from scratch.


Cardboard street signs mark the rows of makeshift plastic tents where more than 2,500 people sleep in the dirt. Handwritten ID cards stamped by a security committee show who belongs, and women serve cheap
fried plantains and breadfruit for families struggling to feed their
children.


One month after 40 seconds of terrifying shaking killed more than 200,000 of their relatives and neighbors and leveled most of their capital, Haiti's endlessly resilient people are struggling to recreate
their lives.


Food has yet to reach all of the 3 million people who need it. Infrastructure problems and supply backlogs continue to hamper an international aid effort that has drawn $537 million from the United
States alone. Schools remain closed. And on Thursday morning, in a
taste of the new horrors the impending rainy season promises to bring,
an early morning downpour muddied the dirt in which 1.2 million people
have pitched makeshift camp.


Downtown, hundreds of Haitians marched Thursday from the destroyed National Palace to the temporary government headquarters demanding the resignation of President Rene Preval, who has been largely out of sight
since the catastrophe. He appeared Wednesday to bicker publicly with
his own communications minister over the death toll.


Amid the chaos and unmet needs, there are obvious signs of progress: The United Nations, itself devastated by the quake, has established a tent-and-trailer city on the airport grounds to coordinate the efforts
of 900 aid agencies who finally appear to be overcoming huge problems
with communications, transportation and infrastructure.


Cell phone coverage has vastly improved. Gas stations have reopened -- though that has also meant traffic is back to its normal, intolerable state. Massive amounts of rubble are still everywhere --
loaded into dump trucks, the convoy would stretch from Port-au-Prince
to Moscow, officials said -- but at least it has been pushed to the
side of the road.


And while handwritten signs still plead for foreign help, opportunistic vendors are back on the streets, selling miniature American flags as soldiers' wide desert-camouflage Humvees roll by. The
once ubiquitous dead, and their overpowering smell, have largely been
carried away.


But even though top foreign and Haitian officials say immediate needs are being met, in villages like Marassa -- a district whose name means "twins" in Creole -- children are going unfed and families are
competing for disgraceful shelter they know will not hold up for long.



In such communities, people are looking out for themselves.



In Marassa, people have made their homes in a dry riverbed that constantly floods in the rainy season. Before dawn Thursday, a surprise downpour soaked everyone's few belongings, rendered their cooking
charcoal unusable and coated their beds in mud.


"We're living in a hole," said Dieusin St. Vil, a 46-year-old tailor who heads the new neighborhood's security committee. "We heard on the radio that the government was supposed to build tent cities around
here, but they haven't come by."



That's because, unbeknownst to the people of Marassa, those plans have changed. On Wednesday, with just 49,000 of a requested 200,000 tents provided, officials announced that deliveries will stop. Foreign
governments, aid groups and Haitian officials have decided that tents
take up too much space and will not last long enough.


"Tents are great, they're a lot better than nothing, but they basically impede the process of economic development and reconstruction," said Lewis Lucke, the U.S. Special Coordinator for
Relief and Reconstruction.



Instead, 250,000 families will get one sheet of plastic each between now and May 1, and will later receive temporary, earthquake-resistant structures of metal and wood. If those numbers hold up, they will help
about 60 percent of the population in need.


In the meantime, there's not enough space, even in the riverbed that is Marassa -- and the self-appointed leaders decided to split their sprawling community into two camps.


In the western half, members of St. Vil's security committee patrol with sticks and make sure residents produce ID tickets that match numbers written in no obvious order on their tents.



An abandoned grandmother named Dieudone Bernard kept getting her tarps stolen, so the security committee told her to move into the hollowed-out wooden trailer of a junked tap-tap, as Haiti's colorful
buses are known.


Since she can't get to one of the 16 fixed U.N. food distribution sites, the 87-year-old woman eats only if relatives bring her rice or a neighbor snags a high-energy biscuit from a handout meant for children.


Even when food aid does arrive in the village -- as did 2,000 hot meals of rice and beans from a Dominican Republic government agency Thursday afternoon -- those without the right connections risk not
getting any.



"Even if the government says they are going to help everyone, everyone isn't going to get help," said the Rev. Moise Farfan, who holds prayer meetings amid the tents of Marassa every night because his
church collapsed in the earthquake.


Nearby, an earthquake widow sold fried bits of potato, breadfruit and plantain from her tent, charging whatever her neighbors had in their pockets.


St. Vil appeared with a scowl, furious that it would keep them from receiving food.


"The journalists are blocking the aid!" he bellowed as a heated argument broke out among residents.



His concerns are not entirely unfounded. When pleading for aid it is much easier to speak in absolutes than to explain the much more complex reality: There is food in Haiti, but especially following the
earthquake it has grown increasingly expensive and hard to get.


The price of heavily subsidized imported rice -- already at levels that caused rioting in April 2008 -- has shot up 25 percent since the earthquake to $3.71 a 2.7-kilo (6-pound) bag, according to USAID. Corn
is up more than 25 percent, wheat increased by half. Charcoal, needed
for cooking, has shot up 17 percent.


With no jobs or homes, and nowhere to go, help from others -- and each other -- means everything.



"The conditions here are no good, but being dead is even worse," said Johnny Joseph, a 48-year-old father of six. "As long as you're living, you might have a friend who's alive too.



One month after 40 seconds of terrifying shaking killed more than 200,000 of their relatives and neighbors and leveled most of their capital, Haiti's
endlessly resilient people are struggling to recreate their lives.


Food has yet to reach all of the 3 million people who need it. Infrastructure problems and supply backlogs continue to hamper an international aid effort that has drawn $537 million from the United
States alone. Schools remain closed. And on Thursday morning, in a
taste of the new horrors the impending rainy season promises to bring,
an early morning downpour muddied the dirt in which 1.2 million people
have pitched makeshift camp.


Downtown, hundreds of Haitians marched Thursday from the destroyed National Palace to the temporary government headquarters demanding the resignation of President Rene Preval, who has been largely out of sight
since the catastrophe. He appeared Wednesday to bicker publicly with
his own communications minister over the death toll.



Amid the chaos and unmet needs, there are obvious signs of progress: The United Nations, itself devastated by the quake, has established a tent-and-trailer city on the airport grounds to coordinate the efforts
of 900 aid agencies who finally appear to be overcoming huge problems
with communications, transportation and infrastructure.


Cell phone coverage has vastly improved. Gas stations have reopened – though that has also meant traffic is back to its normal, intolerable state. Massive amounts of rubble are still everywhere – loaded into
dump trucks, the convoy would stretch from Port-au-Prince to Moscow,
officials said – but at least it has been pushed to the side of the
road.


And while handwritten signs still plead for foreign help, opportunistic vendors are back on the streets, selling miniature American flags as soldiers' wide desert-camouflage Humvees roll by. The
once ubiquitous dead, and their overpowering smell, have largely been
carried away.



But even though top foreign and Haitian officials say immediate needs are being met, in villages like Marassa – a district whose name means "twins" in Creole – children are going unfed and families are
competing for disgraceful shelter they know will not hold up for long.


In such communities, people are looking out for themselves.


In Marassa, people have made their homes in a dry riverbed that constantly floods in the rainy season. Before dawn Thursday, a surprise downpour soaked everyone's few belongings, rendered their cooking
charcoal unusable and coated their beds in mud.


"We're living in a hole," said Dieusin St. Vil, a 46-year-old tailor who heads the new neighborhood's security committee. "We heard on the radio that the government was supposed to build tent cities around
here, but they haven't come by."


That's because, unbeknownst to the people of Marassa, those plans have changed. On Wednesday, with just 49,000 of a requested 200,000 tents provided, officials announced that deliveries will stop. Foreign
governments, aid groups and Haitian officials have decided that tents
take up too much space and will not last long enough.


"Tents are great, they're a lot better than nothing, but they basically impede the process of economic development and reconstruction," said Lewis Lucke, the U.S. Special Coordinator for
Relief and Reconstruction.


Instead, 250,000 families will get one sheet of plastic each between now and May 1, and will later receive temporary, earthquake-resistant structures of metal and wood. If those numbers hold up, they will help
about 60 percent of the population in need.


In the meantime, there's not enough space, even in the riverbed that is Marassa – and the self-appointed leaders decided to split their sprawling community into two camps.


In the western half, members of St. Vil's security committee patrol with sticks and make sure residents produce ID tickets that match numbers written in no obvious order on their tents.


An abandoned grandmother named Dieudone Bernard kept getting her tarps stolen, so the security committee told her to move into the hollowed-out wooden trailer of a junked tap-tap, as Haiti's colorful
buses are known.


Since she can't get to one of the 16 fixed U.N. food distribution sites, the 87-year-old woman eats only if relatives bring her rice or a neighbor snags a high-energy biscuit from a handout meant for children.


Even when food aid does arrive in the village – as did 2,000 hot meals of rice and beans from a Dominican Republic government agency Thursday afternoon – those without the right connections risk not
getting any.


"Even if the government says they are going to help everyone, everyone isn't going to get help," said the Rev. Moise Farfan, who holds prayer meetings amid the tents of Marassa every night because his
church collapsed in the earthquake.


Nearby, an earthquake widow sold fried bits of potato, breadfruit and plantain from her tent, charging whatever her neighbors had in their pockets.


St. Vil appeared with a scowl, furious that it would keep them from receiving food.


"The journalists are blocking the aid!" he bellowed as a heated argument broke out among residents.


His concerns are not entirely unfounded. When pleading for aid it is much easier to speak in absolutes than to explain the much more complex reality: There is food in Haiti, but especially following the
earthquake it has grown increasingly expensive and hard to get.


The price of heavily subsidized imported rice – already at levels that caused rioting in April 2008 – has shot up 25 percent since the earthquake to $3.71 a 2.7-kilo (6-pound) bag, according to USAID. Corn
is up more than 25 percent, wheat increased by half. Charcoal, needed
for cooking, has shot up 17 percent.


With no jobs or homes, and nowhere to go, help from others – and each other – means everything.


"The conditions here are no good, but being dead is even worse," said Johnny Joseph, a 48-year-old father of six. "As long as you're living, you might have a friend who's alive too.



Views: 603

Replies to This Discussion

GOD SPEED KAVI-------------WE ARE ALL BEHIND YOUR EFFORTS!!!
Thanks Bob,

I will need that. Boy what a mess it still is! A month later and this is all we have accomplished? What about giving these people seeds, to grow their own food? Like Barbara and Woody organised?

They don't want tents to go there. Tarps are much better. Makes it easier for the real estate developers. Well, what do you know?

I shall do my best to not only give them meds, but also seeds and stuff to grow them with. First week will be hardest, because i have to determine where to go. Ingrid gave me some phone numbers and areas where there is not help at all.

I was thinking to join others, but why go where the help is already? So I can get on TV with Anderson Cooper? The real news is that many areas don't get any help. But CNN does not go there - no glamour, you see.

Well, stuff CNN! The people are important here and not the news. So I shall establish something in a place that is neglected and there are plenty of those.
Thank you Jaine,

that is all i need. All comes from above and not from the worldly. They have nothing substantial to offer. I have no doubts that all happens for a reason. To see that reason is another story and many are blind although seeing. Many are deaf although hearing.

The inspiration comes when you have seen the suffering and heard more than enough cries for help. Then there is only action and that will make the real difference.
Why did so many people die in Haiti's quake?

The devastating earthquakes that hit China on 12 May 2008, Italy on 6 April 2009 and Haiti one month ago all measured above 6.0 and took many lives. But why was the human cost so much greater for Haiti?


When Pete Garratt, Red Cross head of disaster relief, received an alert on 12 January indicating a large quake had hit Haiti near its capital Port-au-Prince, he instantly recognised the seriousness of the emergency.

"I knew that meant deaths and injuries," he says.

The reason he predicted the effects of the quake would be so grave, Mr Garratt explains, is that there are a number of critical factors, learned through years of experience, that contribute to the scale of devastation following such big shifts of the earth's crust.

One is, perhaps obviously, the size of the quake, but also how near it is to the surface, the density of the population near its epicentre, as well as whether there are any heavily urbanised areas nearby. These all indicate a higher death toll - and were all features of the Haiti quake.



But poverty also plays its role, Mr Garratt explains, as it exacerbates a country's or region's vulnerability to such disasters.

In places such as Haiti, where 72.1% of the population live on less than $2 a day, and in cities like Port-au-Prince, where many are housed in poor and densely-packed shantytowns and badly-constructed buildings, the devastation is always expected to be greater.

"These countries have less money to put into buildings and there is less governance ensuring building codes are followed," Mr Garratt explains.

"Corruption can also be an issue, and so even when there are government structures to ensure building codes are followed, there are bribes that enable people to take short cuts.

"Put simply - there are the technical elements of the earthquake and then the social elements on top of that."

Therefore, the fact that the Haiti quake hit close to a poorly-constructed, large urban area was crucial in reducing people's chances of survival.



"In Italy it was one town, and a few surrounding villages - not a large urban area. And in China, although it affected a large area and big towns, it was not a city," says Mr Garratt.

"In Haiti, in a big city like Port-au-Prince, with so many structures coming down, this means more rubble will kill more people."

The resulting scale of destruction - of infrastructure, of government and other official organisations - also made it much more difficult to respond once the earthquake hit and had an impact on the number of people rescued from the rubble.



Haiti, unlike China and Italy, simply did not have the resources to act quickly, and it took time to get outside help in.

"The Chinese government was able to mobilise a very military response. Although some parts were hard to reach initially," says Mr Garratt. "The resources they had were very impressive.

"The problem in Haiti was the airport was only half-functioning and you had one road route that took a day to traverse."

The dense urban environment in Port-au-Prince also made it a difficult place for rescue teams to work once they were there, he says.

"You could say that the resulting congestion in large cities meant there was less room for manoeuvre.

"But there were an enormous number of search and rescue teams there and considering the difficulties getting there, they did a good job."

However, the statistics on rescues may not necessarily reflect the true number of victims freed in and around Port-au-Prince, he warns.

"The majority of people are pulled out of the rubble by their neighbours."

Lessons learned

The Red Cross, which had teams dealing with the aftermath of the China, Italy and Haiti earthquakes, believes aid agencies learn lessons from every disaster, although each - like Haiti - poses fresh questions.

"We are always getting better," says Mr Garratt. "But what is a challenge is that there is always something new."

One of the problems in Port-au-Prince is the lack of space, he adds, as well as a constantly shifting and mobile population.

The task now for such organisations is to help the people of Haiti get back on their feet, given the inevitable crippling economic cost of such a quake.

Graphics showing the economic costs


And as the Red Cross and others admit, their success in responding to the Haiti emergency will be judged not just on the first weeks of emergency aid, but on whether communities are left more resilient and better equipped when the next disaster strikes.
Area Affected in the Quake


Haiti map image showing Anse a Galets, Miragone, Petit Goave, Grand Goave, Fond des Blancs, Cotes-de-Fer, Leogane, Gressier, Port-au-Prince, Carrefour, Jacmel, Crois-des-Bouquets, Thomazeau and Fond Parisien

The earthquake that devastated the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince on 13 January also affected many outlying towns - the extent of which is only being discovered days after the disaster.

Analysis and reports from international agencies have helped provide a picture of how badly hit other areas were.

The epicentre of the magnitude 7 quake was south west of Port-au-Prince and large towns in that region, such as Leogane, Gressier and Carrefour suffered large scale destruction, with up to 90% of buildings destroyed in some places.

In Leogane, between 5,000 and 10,000 people were killed.

Smaller towns in the area also suffered.

In Jacmel, on the southern coast, more than 3,000 people were reported to have been killed or injured and 60% of buildings damaged or destroyed.
Thanks for the explanation.

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