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.

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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. Sal

    Actually there is nothing that can be done for these people. It's the same as in some African countries where they don't have anything but they still keep putting out babies one after another. I guess they don't mind if some of their babies die of starvation. They can always make more...... 

    August 23, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jel

      What the hell is wrong with you?? That's pretty shallow minded...

      August 23, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Archived

    Hate to be critical (unlike all the others here), but haven't the people of Haiti been inhabiting that island for hundreds of years? It's not like hurricanes are a new thing. Sure there will be death and devastation, but it has happened probably pretty consistently for centuries.

    August 23, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • dudebroski

      It might have something to do with the fact that a massive earthquake pretty much destroyed their largest city and capital in 2010.

      August 23, 2012 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. George

    We picked up over 3,000 haitians during the great migration in the early 90's and took them to GTMO. Of course we did medical screenings and found 100% had TB, and roughly 80% were HIV positive. I also saw one haitian kill a 3 month old baby for a jar of baby food, saw another stabbed to death for a coke, we could do nothing as it would have caused an "international incident" those people can all rot and die for all I care these days.

    August 23, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      George, let me remind you that you are nothing, but mere dust. You are not worth more than any other human on the face of this earth. Thank God, you don't worth s^it!

      August 23, 2012 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Daniel ONeil

    It is true that most of the money that Americans gave to Haiti after the earthquake went to rescuing people, feeding people, and setting up tent cities. But wasn't that the idea? Haiti is vulnerable to flooding from small storms because it has been poor for so long. Despite what people tend to think, the Haitian government will be the primary organization responding to the impact of this storm. Not quite sure why no one from the government was quoted in the article.

    August 23, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • KeninTexas

      Daniel,,,,, I think you're wrong. Most of the money that went to help there was siphoned off by corrupt officials or wasted on frivolous PC efforts that resulted in nothing good or helpful for the people who needed help.

      August 23, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • kdmquito

      Thanks Dan! KeninTexas you are wrong – have no facts to back up your statement. Was there corruption – sure, but that is NOT where the majority of it went. Educate yourself instead of spewing forth lies!

      August 24, 2012 at 12:23 am | Report abuse |
  5. Anita

    What happened to all those hundreds, if not thousands of shipping/cargo crates that came in to Haiti after the hurrican. We have the ability to convert those to sustainable, sturdy housing – why on earth has someone not done this in the two plus years since the devestation? Cargo containers, old box cars, what are we doing leaving these things in rail yards when we can be providing safe housing options.

    August 23, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gloria

      I agree wih you Anita. Where have the box cars gone. Great housing in a poverty stricken country.

      August 23, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • BlameYT

      you're too smart to be haitian.

      haha- "WE". It'll never be them

      August 23, 2012 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • joan

      those houses only last a few years

      August 24, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
  6. cedaly1968

    I think the problem with Haiti is that the majority of the country is owned by a handful of rich landowners and they refuse to allow their land to be taken or even purchased to help the populace. It's interesting when you read up on Haiti and you wonder why they did not have a communist revolution like Cuba where all land was seized by the government. The land owners in Haiti have been wealth for generations dating back to, you guessed it, the slave trade.

    August 23, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • ehomer

      You make a good point. They would be much better off had a Cuban style government taken over. I can't think of a single way in which they wouldn't have been better off.

      August 23, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kyle

      You should go re-read your history book. In case you forgot Haiti was the first free black republic. Much of the country was destroyed post Independence to deter the French from coming back. Secondly, the reason why Haiti didn't have a communist take over was that the government, the Duvalier's received money from the West to keep communism out of the country. The country none-the-less was growing economically and had stability. There were just limited freedoms. It wasn't until "democracy" that the country lost most of its economic stability.

      August 23, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mark

    The tents these people live in were temporary shelters, where are the permanent masonary structures? Does anyone have the will to build houses and lift themselves out of the gutters?

    August 23, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • kdmquito

      and Mark where are they to build those houses – on whose land?

      August 24, 2012 at 12:24 am | Report abuse |
  8. memmin

    who's fault? people that got all the money from around the world stolen by media companies and didn't get any other chance that suffering and poverty after the earthquake? or the thieves that make us believe we have to keep donating???

    August 23, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. bob


    August 23, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    My heart goes out to these people but at some point the welfare has to stop. Countries like this and those in Africa have proven decades of foreign aid has done nothing to help these people.

    August 23, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Bob

    This is what happens when abortion is illegal. A GOP dream for America.

    August 23, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Emily

    Regretfully I did donate when they had the earthquake. It won't happen again. At least not for the people of Haiti. They need to learn to take care of themselves. That nut job Sean Penn really didn't add a positive light to their problems. He is probably still over there babysitting these adult children.

    August 23, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. geo

    give them plenty of drinking water

    August 23, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  14. GID

    I thought 2 BILLION + was rasied after the earthquake? Even building 700sf basic homes (bed, bath, living area) wouldnt have cost 2 B. I sense a lot of waste / greedy hands in Hait

    August 23, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  15. the_dude

    two years and how many billions of dollars wasted with nothing to show......yep...this is a black-run nation for sure...

    August 23, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
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