May 4th, 2010
02:56 PM ET

Haiti's latest hardship: Relentless rain

Rain pelts the tents in Port-au-Prince's Champ de Mars, which is now home to thousands of displaced Haitians.

At the central plaza in Port-au-Prince, now home to thousands of displaced Haitians, water pelted rows of tents, seeping inside from every direction Monday night. At the Champs de Mars people tried to close shut entrances, some with thin cotton sheets or blankets. Mothers rushed to move children sleeping on the ground.

Suddenly, the constant noise of the street came to a halt, replaced by the thud of monstrous drops falling hard from the sky. The only welcomed sight: gleeful children cooling off after another scorching day.

The water quickly started collecting along the roadside. Aid workers say they fear that constant rain will overflow garbage- and rubble-filled canals, flooding the encampments that have sprouted on their banks.

The situation in some camps could be life threatening.

In Haiti, everyone knows the rainy season’s coming but there is little they can do to prepare. It comes every year in Haiti. The skies open up starting in May and the rains continue for several months. There is the added risk of hurricanes smacking into the nation that now lies devastated by the massive earthquake in January.

The International Organization for Migration estimates that about 2 million Haitians were displaced from their homes and are now living in more than 1,300 makeshift camps, some under bed sheets and flimsy tarps.

“A tent is a good place to be in another earthquake but not in a hurricane,” said Imogen Wall, spokeswoman for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Haiti.

Or in heavy rain, like the downpour Monday night in Port-au-Prince.

Almost 50,000 people are camped on the undulating nine-hole Petionville Golf Club. Vital Junior pointed to the dirt under his feet. When it rains, the place turns into a mud bath, slick and treacherous on the slopes.

At another much smaller camp in seaside Carrefour, water gushed down the hill and through the tents.

There are also worries that unsanitary conditions will unleash vicious disease outbreaks – malaria, cholera, dengue fever.

The fear is compounded by memories of Hurricane Jeanne in 2004 that weaved a path of destruction in the Gonaives area. Nearly 300,000 Haitians were affected – more than 3,000 died.

Four years later, Haiti’s third largest city was pummeled again by a series of deadly storms.

With painful images lingering in their minds, 2 million people are sleeping in tents in this year’s rainy season.

They are homeless in the poorest nation in the Americas. Homeless in a nation that’s highly disaster prone and vulnerable to flash floods because of environmental degradation.

Haitians know what to expect of the rainy season, unlike the earthquake. Except this year, many have no roofs over their heads.

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soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. james l.

    how sad, my poor country, my poor people, especially the children, i love you. please may god step in and help in this desperate situation, because only he can do for the poor, and hungry.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. V

    I just returned from Hait after spending one month there helping to put up water tight tents for the people of Haiti. There is no way to describe the poverty that those who lost their homes are now living under. It is very sad to see. BUT- there is another side to this story. The government in Haiti is corrupt and involved in witchcraft practises. Our country was made strong because it was one nation under God, and now even that is being taken away from us. Maybe our country should take this as a warning as to what may be our fate if we leave God out of our country. Back to the people of Haiti- it is my prayer that someday their country may be different, and that He will bless my dear friends there, who are now living in tents.

    May 5, 2010 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. JS

    If every family in the US gave 1 tent the Haitians would have shelter until the next stage of the recovery!

    May 5, 2010 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. meslippers

    Where's Frontline? 60 minutes? There's a glaring discrepancy between the millions of dollars that went to Haiti and the shelter provided to Haitians as recommended by the experts in charge. Tarps is not shelter for hurricanes and 10,000 semi-permanent structures will not house more than a million displaced people. You can't blame the Haiti government for this one cuz they're not the ones in charge.

    And yes, the Haitian elite mafia needs to be exposed. They aren't called the morally repugnant elite for nothing! Lots of blood on their hands. Lots.

    And yes, the rain is a hardship. Here's how they are living when it rains. Could you live in these conditions?
    March 18 was the first of the rains

    May 6, 2010 at 5:51 am | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Don

    Phil
    Have you tried Lutheran World Relief with your shelters?

    May 6, 2010 at 10:32 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. american with nothing

    WHO CARES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Where are all the haitians to help clean up the oil spill ????

    May 6, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Caleb

    AId For Haiti (AFH) is interested in Phil Angel's idea of semipermanent housing. Does anyone know how to get in touch with Phil? Please email us. http://www.aidforhaiti.org

    May 7, 2010 at 1:26 am | Report abuse | Reply
  8. ArubaUnited

    STOP the witchcraft Haiti, you'll see how things WILL get better!

    May 7, 2010 at 1:30 am | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Ray Glover

    GOVERNMENT THEFT CAUSED THIS! HAITI YOUR GOVERNMENT STOLE FROM YOU! AMERICAN GOVERNMENT STOLE FROM ME! THIS WHOLE PLANET WILL SUFFER!!!! IN JESUS NAME AMEN!! JESUS IS ON HIS WAY!! THE BIBLE SAYS THE PLANET WILL ROCK JUST BEFORE HE COMES!! PRAY KEEP HIM IN YOUR HEART YOU WILL BE OK!!

    GOVERNMENT THEFT WILL STOP!!!!!!! I WANT MY 16,747,092,00 DOLLARS BACK THIS GOVERNMENT STOLE FROM ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 7, 2010 at 3:35 am | Report abuse | Reply
  10. CBD

    Ray Glover – if you really believe in Jesus as your savior, then you would believe that the money you say the government stole from you is not your own but belongs to God. Because everything on this planet belongs to Him.

    Phil Angel – I pray that your solution does find a place over there.

    May 7, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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