Quake-hit Haiti struck by Hurricane Tomas

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Map of the January Haiti earthquake.
Image: United States Central Intelligence Agency.

In what can only be described as yet another addition to a long list of unfortunate happenings in Haiti, the Category 1 Hurricane Tomas displaced a large number of the population on Friday, most notably in Port-au-Prince, the capital city, where earthquake refugee camps serve as a home to as many as 1.3 million victims of the January 12 earthquake.

The earthquake, along with the consequent cholera epidemic, claimed the lives of 250,000 Haitians, and while the hurricane was not considered severe, it's resulting flooding has the already-vulnerable population worried.

"I'm scared that if I leave they'll tear this whole place down. I don't have money to pay for a home somewhere else," said Clarice Napoux, a 21 year-old resident in Port-au-Prince, who was displaced by the quake. People are indeed leaving, however, as many as 8,000 refugees in areas vulnerable to the heavy rainfall, predicted in upwards of 10 inches, were forced to seek higher ground.

Tomas' flooding has reportedly claimed the lives of three citizens; two of which were in the town of Léogâne, to the south of the capital. The local Haitian government evacuated more than 200 inmates from a coastal prison. However, many citizens are upset with what they see as inadequate response to the floods.

"They have a reason to be mad. The central government hasn't done anything here," said Wilson St. Juste, deputy mayor of Haiti. The federal government, however, has made efforts to remind its citizens of the enormous strain it is already experiencing resulting primarily from previous damage and relief efforts.

Does the Haitian government share some blame for Tomas' effects on the citizenry?

"We have two catastrophes that we are managing. The first is the hurricane and the second is cholera," President Rene Preval noted in a national press release. The Red Cross has worked to accommodate those affected by the floods, and the USS Iwo Jima is standing by off the coast with relief supplies.

"We got flooded out and we're just waiting for the storm to pass. There's nothing we can do," said one resident Friday. Indeed, the thousands that have been displaced twice can but sit and wait for Tomas' effects on an already stretched-thin nation to pass.