PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- One of the heaviest rainfalls since Haiti's Jan. 12 earthquake swamped homeless camps Friday, sweeping screaming residents into eddies of water, overflowing latrines and panicking thousands.
The overnight downpour sent water coursing down the slopes of a former golf course that now serves as a temporary home for about 45,000 people.
There were no reports of deaths in the camp, a town-size maze of blue, orange and silver tarps located behind the country club used by the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne as a forward-operating base.
But the deluge terrified families who just two months ago survived the collapse of their homes in the magnitude-7 earthquake and are now struggling to make do in tent-and-tarp camps that officials have repeatedly said must be relocated.
"I was on one side (of the tarp), the children were on the other side and I was trying to push the water out," Jackquine Exama, a 34-year-old mother of seven, said through tears.
"I'm not used to this," she said.
The link includes some photos....unreal.
We had quite an interesting week. Far too much drama for my liking! But it all worked out fine in the end. I'll try to break things down into bite-sized pieces:
Port-au-Prince. We'll send some photos and videos along fairly soon. Some of my observations: when you see a tall building crumpled over it's just shocking. Equally shocking are the big areas of people living in tents. School yards converted into tent 'villages'.
PAP is more complicated in some ways than it was before. Now as we drove through there would be entire neighborhoods which appeared perfectly fine, and then wham! by turning a street you'd see one or several buildings crushed or leaning, or half-caved in. The shanties are still standing, which seems odd. And then there are these big areas of people living in tents (or under pieces of plastic). The tents are of different quality.
It's hard to see people living in squalor. It's hard to see them living in poverty. But those now in tents...even what little they had has been taken from them.
Activity in PAP is resuming as people are starting to sell again. The streets are busy with cars and people. It doesn't feel as crowded as usual, though.
Schools have not resumed yet to my knowledge.
LOTS of organizations are present in Haiti. UN. USAID. UNICEF. Red Cross. etc etc etc. You see them everywhere.
The first-hand stories are particularly potent, and hopefully Jen will share some of those with you soon. Stories of people who survived and of those who did not survive--both are harrowing.
The people in PAP remind me that Haitians are very strong people. As someone mentioned to me recently, we sometimes get upset if the temperature is too cold in our house. many of them have lost family members, some have lost limbs, some have lost everything. And yet they carry on.
Beyond Port-au-Prince. Flying out of PAP to Jeremie you see a lot of the same things in the countryside and in some of the smaller cities. You see lots of tents, flattened buildings. To me the tents mean that someone is making sure that those people's needs are being attended to, at least in part. And that's encouraging.
You see military ships (like an aircraft carrier!) in the harbor, and I've gotta tell you: there must have been something very comforting to see these huge, massive vessels charging into the bay...knowing that help is on the way.
Pestel. More on this later, but the people are doing well. Food distributions are occurring out there as well, and sometimes tempers rise during those distributions. And it's more crowded in Pestel than usual.
The health campaign is currently underway! And I'm really very happy with the 14 workers who now have employment as a result! Anderson worked as my translator during the whole week and he did a FANTASTIC job! We are so very happy with his work. He was nervous about it at first, but he really hit his stride this week.
Sisters Fidelis and Jo are doing well, though the workload remains high. They were deeply affected by the things they witnessed after the earthquake in PAP, so please continue to pray that they have strength and peace.
We'll try to post photos/videos within the week or so.
Thank you for your prayers. There were a whole series of chaotic events...drama...that all worked out, but caused a substantial amount of stress at times.
I'm SO thankful that Jen went out with me, on so many levels. We'll not likely do this very often (maybe once per year, if that), but she was a great encouragement to me as well as providing good balance to decision-making. Her observations are so wonderfully different from my own, and I'll try to see if I can get her to post some of them :)