August 23rd, 2012
01:06 PM ET

Isaac threatens to bring more destruction, cholera to Haiti

Tent camps dot the streets in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The shelters, sometimes just draped tarps, are all that stand between residents and Mother Nature.

More than 400,000 of those residents live in the tents, all they've called home since a 7.0-magnitude earthquake rocked the Haitian capital in 2010, reducing many of of the structures in the capital and its suburbs to rubble.

Two years removed from the earthquake, Haitians are praying again. This time, they hope they will be spared Tropical Storm Isaac, which appears to be headed straight for them.

Track the storm

The country is still trying to battle back from a deadly cholera outbreak after the 2010 earthquake. So as the storm threatens to bring winds of about 74 mph and 12 inches of rain, the challenges are mounting. The U.S. National Hurricane Center warned that the rain could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.

Aid organizations are preparing for the worst.

"We watch those storms every single time they come near because Haiti is so vulnerable," said Amy Parodi, a spokeswoman for the Christian humanitarian organization World Vision.

The agency has met with the government in previous summers to discuss contingency plans for major storms, and pre-positioned relief items are available, she said.

Haiti has always been a susceptible to hurricanes, even before the earthquake. It is right in the middle of “hurricane alley” in the Caribbean.

Photos: Haiti’s children two years after the earthquake

When hurricanes dump rain on the slopes of its deforested mountains - some more than 8,000 feet high - mudslides are the result. Living at the base of these mountains, in tents and poorly constructed houses, are hundreds of thousands of people.

"Our experience in Haiti clearly indicates that it is not the storm or the winds, it’s the rain that causes the problems," said Sinan Al-Najjar, the Red Cross' deputy country representative in Haiti. "When rain comes, landslides and flash floods do happen in Haiti. We are trying to focus on which are the flood areas, which are the risk areas."

With flood waters come the risk of another outbreak of cholera, an infection of the large intestine that causes severe diarrhea.

"After floods, it's going to be almost certain that we see increases in cholera cases," Al-Najjar said. "We already witnessed that with the few weeks of rain we had in April. We had spikes due to daily rain. If a flood comes, we know certainly cholera is going to be an issue."

Al-Najjar said there are workers on standby in the area prepared to deliver any necessary medical attention, including supplies for more than 15,000 people who may present symptoms of cholera. He added that they are also prepared to purify more than 800,000 gallons of water. The Red Cross has teams on standby to help distribute any aid that may be necessary and warehouse facilities as stocked as they can be.

Haiti's cholera outbreak in October 2010 killed more than 7,000 people and sickened more than 500,000, according to Nigel Fisher, the United Nations' humanitarian coordinator in Haiti.

In March, Fisher warned that the existing camps would probably be "exposed to cholera outbreaks and risks of flooding that will be exacerbated by the upcoming rainy and hurricane season from May to November."

Even if the decision to evacuate these vulnerable areas happens, Al-Najjar said, a large problem is the lack of evacuation centers in Haiti.

Which means many Haitians may have nowhere to go as the storm moves ashore.

"A lot of people don’t have safe houses," Al-Najjar said. "And they are going to certainly need help in case of heavy rains or strong winds. There is a lack of evacuation places and lack of shelters. That's something we're going to have to deal with."

soundoff (186 Responses)
  1. Wow

    This is so so sad for these people.

    August 23, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dessalines

      Sympathy level = ZERO. Haitians made their own problems. They overthrew their colonial masters in an effort at self determination, and look at the results. They destroyed a beautiful tropical island and live in squalor, misery, and violence.

      August 23, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • ghost5

      Just look at the pictures of Haiti, all garbage everywhere you look. Starting with a clean new life means picking up the junk around you instead of living in it and waiting for someone to "rescue" them...

      August 23, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Poor Haiti

      It truly is sad.

      ghost5, it must be easy to make generalization about a group of people from pictures on the internet, that you view in the comfort of your own home, without fear for your safety, or without want of food or shelter. I've been to Haiti and I can tell you that the majority of Haitian people aren't lazy, as you seem to think. They are a strong, hardworking people who have a very unfortunate history. Before you make claims about a group of people, I challenge you to live life in their shoes, it may open your eyes...

      August 24, 2012 at 1:30 am | Report abuse |
  2. Sinfully Yours

    Sux to be them!

    August 23, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Lazlo

    The population of Haiti is less than 10 Million
    After the 2010 quake the UN reported 10 Billion in donations
    you do the math.
    CNN help us understand what is going on

    August 23, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • pointless1

      Guess it doesn't cost money for medicine, repairing infrastructure damage to damaged buildings and anything else you can think of.. Someone is always thinking they could rebuild so quickly never spent anytime in a place that has suffered that type of devastation.

      August 23, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      I agree, pointless1.
      Case in point: Katrina and those who were affected by it.
      May Haiti come through this with minimal damage.

      August 23, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rhodely

      The US promised money also, do you know the different between promised donations and actually giving that money over. Some nations make a promise like calling into a telethon with a bad credit card, no intention of giving the money over. Do some research and see how much money was really donated.

      August 23, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Another Brick in the Wall

    2 years later ? Give these people the power to help themselves instead of just giving them tents and food !

    August 23, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. nat

    Where the eff did our donations go to???

    August 23, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Grey

    It's a good thing that all those countries that promised millions and billions to Haiti after the earthquake paid it and its just waiting there in the haiti's bank accounts, because otherwise this could be a serious problem for them.

    August 23, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rhodely

      Most never paid the promised money, like our goverment. We did help with man-power and securing the new found gold sites for Canada

      August 23, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  7. broooooom

    Hurricanes are natures broom.

    August 23, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Saw it a mile out

    Haiti is the Detroit of the caribbean: Once a nice place, destroyed by its occupants, no future.

    August 23, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Baby Doc

    Dear Americans:

    Another hurricane is coming. Please send billions. Thanks.

    P.S. See you again next year!

    August 23, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Alex

    Its just hard for me to feel sorry for a bunch of voodoo devil people.

    August 23, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • joan

      for your information most of the people are practicing Catholics

      August 24, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Alexis

    It is very hard for me to feel sorry for them. Everyone should leave them alone – especially the Christian missionaries that enable them – and let them work it out for themselves.

    August 23, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Sal

    What these people need more than tents and permanent housing is birth control! 

    August 23, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Emma

      you are 100 percent correct

      August 23, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mark

    They all practice vodoo and live like animals. They need to work it out for themselves for once.

    August 23, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • kdmquito

      You're an ignorant fool!

      August 24, 2012 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
  14. Jim Herr

    When I was there in 1995 with the UN, the political, social, and physical lack was such it appeared to not have a starting point for habilitation. To a lesser degree it is similar to our urban inner cities with the government throwing money at the problem without help and willingness from the local populus.

    August 23, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Emma

    I wish we could send all the occupiers over there. Let the teens start their own country. After all, they know everything.

    August 23, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Heart

      I like you.

      August 23, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
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