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It Can Get Worse: It Happens in Haiti

October 12, 2016
Plain English Version
A street in the coastal town of Jérémie on Thursday. Credit Logan Abassi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A street in the coastal town of Jérémie on Thursday. Credit Logan Abassi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Haiti had a big earthquake in 2010. To make matters worse, rescuers left behind an outbreak of Cholera. The country is the poorest in the hemisphere. Its government is the weakest.

Just when matters could not get worse, they did. It was Hurricane Matthew. The storm wiped out large parts of the country. Upwards of a thousand people are dead or missing. People are living on the streets.

Traffic cannot get through on many roads. That is making it hard to figure out how much damage there is.

Elections were to take place last Sunday. Officials called them off. The political situation was in turmoil before the hurricane. Matters are now even worse. No one is in charge.

There are food shortages. Some villages no longer exist. Relief is just starting to come in.

Teams of young men are in the street with machetes and chain saws. They are trying to clear roads blocked by fallen trees. A man said, “Almost everyone is living under the sky now. They are sleeping under the stars. Doors are gone. People do not have a place to live.”

In the past, people stripped the mountains of trees for firewood. That makes mudslides happen. The country is defenseless to hurricanes. It is without sea walls or other hard defenses to soften the blow.

There is a lot of sympathy for Haiti. An expert said “Haiti has been in the path of the storm way too often. It is not because of anything the Haitian people are doing.” It is “because of the way people managed the country.”

Observers say elections are important. The interim government does not have the power to speed recovery. Many are searching for food or looking for loved ones. The elections are not on their mind.

Source: The New York Times October 7, 2016

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