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. Pete

    don415 i have been to haiti and your right

    August 23, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rock

      Where did the millons go we sent over there after the earthquake. I'm sure it went to the corrupt goverment.

      August 23, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • smitty

      they are in Hurricane alley and they don't change any construction. so, theywill continue to be the poorest country around. why should be bail them out. either we take over their govt or we let them fail, again.

      August 23, 2012 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • smitty

      I guess we should let the church save them.......

      August 23, 2012 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • smitty

      and we are the
      USA. we love to take care of all people of color so we can check the diversity box, kind of like Obama. not that we've proven that we will vote him as homecoming queen, can we get back to deciding between real leaders?

      August 23, 2012 at 10:55 pm | Report abuse |
  2. cynthia

    The funding for NASA has a long-term purpose, necessary because most of us are too self-absorbed or ignorant by choice. Many other funded programs are also necessary and helpful. BUT...the idea that politicians are spending approx. $1 billion on a sham convention, the candidate is decided, while people are in real trouble at home and in places like Haiti is obscene. Both parties guily.

    August 23, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
  3. africanshave70iq

    Who's surprised?

    They die of thirst in africa and missionaries come to save their lives- because they are TOO LAZY TO DIG A WELL.

    Looking at africans in western countries, sitting around and causing crime is a genetic thing.

    They are better off under apartheid/segregation where humans can care for them and they do less harm to themselves.

    August 23, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • EdPerezNJ

      "Sitting around and causing crime is a genetic thing"
      I am not a historian but what I do remember is that those of the caucasian persuasion seem to have caused some of the greatest attrocities in the history of man!
      Hitler was not African...
      Stalin was not African...
      Those that stole America (yes stole!) from the Indians that were here were not African...
      Those Southern slaveowners (and their Northern counterparts) were definitely not African..
      So tell me Faustus, where does that equate in your feeble mind... Justified aggression?
      Go sell that inbred noise elsewhere...

      August 23, 2012 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • kdmquito

      Wow racism is alive and well in your head!

      August 23, 2012 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mark

    If someone discovered oil in Haiti, the rest of the world would have Haiti rebuilt in a month.

    August 23, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • RL

      We sent billions to rebuild. These people killed every white person in the nation many years ago. As Pat Robertson said, "they made a deal with the devil". (and Pat hasn't had too many correct statements but he got that right.) Nothing has changed in a 100 years. They sit there with their hand out instead of trying to rebuild themselves. We need to feed our hungry first.

      August 23, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Doosh-LaRooush

    Uh, they have had lots of time and lots of money to rebuild, ever heard of earth bag construction? I'm sure they have dirt. They are just lazy and want hand-outs for life.

    August 23, 2012 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob Knippel

      Lazy? Try digging without a shovel.

      August 23, 2012 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bazoing

      Well, they could avoid throwing their trash in that canal. What are we to do go and clean it up for them?

      August 23, 2012 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • kdmquito

      Have you been there? Doubt it! Such hate you spew, you are clueless....go get an education and a heart!

      August 23, 2012 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Frank M.

    I for one am tired of hearing about how miserable Haiti is. Always has been & will never change. Some things dont change, ever.

    August 23, 2012 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • kdmquito

      There is A LOT of good things going on in Haiti – it can, it does and will change....but that level of change doesn't happen over night. The media only shows the poor hopeless parts.... there is great beauty, construction, lovely rice fields, hard workers, schools, hospitals, roads being constructed....I could go on....but maybe you should do some research b4 you make such statements. Then again CNN should also do a story on the things going well in Haiti...

      August 23, 2012 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Dark Poet

    How about we fix Africa while we are at it?! How about the Oylmpics 4 years ago where a bunch of Chinese people were murdered for their land

    August 23, 2012 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
  8. ManTex

    The are all God's children. Let him sort it out.

    August 23, 2012 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bitter Scribe

    For all those on this board saying the help has to stop and Haiti needs to take care of itself: What if that was you and your family with nothing protecting you from howling winds and pouring rain but a tarp on a stick? Terrified that any second you'd be buried in mud or covered in water?

    August 23, 2012 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      Take it from someone who quit their job and went down there to help them after the quake on my own dime.....they are the most disgusting, disrespectful, thieving, racist bunch of folks I have ever met. I've lived and worked in the Third World, been to dozens and dozens of countries and by far, these are the worse human being I have ever met. To hell with Haiti.

      August 23, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • kdmquito

      Michael – I too have worked and lived in Haiti both before and after the earthquake and while no doubt there are some bad cases to say that about a whole people is WRONG and is NOT the Haiti I know!!

      August 23, 2012 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Kuba

    They should not be handed a cent.They need to understand nobody will help until you want to help yourself.Cruel , but true.Otherwise how are they suppose to understand the value of charity dollar if they can always count on handouts.

    August 23, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • kdmquito

      I agree people should help themselves, and Haitians have and continue to do so, every day. The country didn't get the way it is today all on its own though – plenty of help from the US and the French among others. I also have a theory that missionaries created a dependency culture among many in Haiti – and who did that – mostly US missionaries, b/c it is so close to the US. Even today, every time I go there there are plane loads of missionaries coming and going – doing "God's work" with their kitchy God t-shirts "saving lives" and they I think are just as, if not MORE responsible for the current situation. To look at the Haitian condition today you must look at the history...educate yourself!

      August 23, 2012 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Rascal Rabble

    ...god is sending Isaac to prophesy a little town call tampa for hosting the r n p convention...

    August 23, 2012 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Professor

    For the love of God. All the money sent to that country. Can't we at least teach those people how to make brick shelters. OMFG. I get it, the Earthquake destroyed much of the infrastructure so you build some damn shelters. What are all those people at the regugee camps doing? They should be working in farm, fishing, and building brick buildings. This is known as rebuilding and I don't see any of it, 2 years later.

    August 23, 2012 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • kdmquito

      A lot are WORKING, building etc.... how long after Katrina are houses not rebuilt in the US! – this in the wealthiest country in the world – how dare you say "fix thyself" in a few years Haiti – you the poorest country in the western hemisphere, where there are few natural resources, where you own no land (the majority of land is own by a few wealthy families and the catholic church), and the prices of goods are comparable to, if not more than the US! Should 400,000 people still be living in shelters – No....but its complicated – educate yourself!

      August 23, 2012 at 11:53 pm | Report abuse |
  13. PHinMiami

    What's the excuse for all the trash splattered all over?

    . . . waiting

    August 23, 2012 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Pete

    i would hope that after living in a tent for three years i would find some means of building a better shelter. i know that the country was devastaded by an earthquake but somebody should have enough ambition to use what ever they can from the rubble to build something. in other 3rd world countries that have natural disasters they use what is left to rebuild, they dont sit in tents and wait for someone else to do it for them

    August 23, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • kdmquito

      Where are they supposed to do that, if they own no land?!

      August 23, 2012 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • kdmquito

      Most of the lands the camps that remain on are owned by the govt or private owners and they don't want people to build permanent homes on the you own land in Haiti? Maybe you could provide some w/ long term leases or other low-income house financing... educate yourself!

      August 23, 2012 at 11:56 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Easy E

    I feel sad for the kids, they are held hostage in an awful situation. But for the adults? Zero empathy. At some point these people have to take responsibility for their own lives. After all the assistance they've been given, there is just no excuse anymore. Stop having so many kids, stop doing drugs, get an education, and do something productive for f ks sake. Clean up the crime, build a few cabanas and you could have a thriving tourism industry...yet it never happens.

    August 23, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Leslie

      Unless you've been to Haiti, you have NO IDEA of the kind of poverty of which you are speaking. It is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. My friend went to Haiti with the Coast Guard once and he said he couldn't even talk about the slums. He said it was simply unimaginable. So, you are completely clueless to think there is any easy solution to this problem.

      August 23, 2012 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
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