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. Frogsarereal

    Let's give Haiti a break, okay Universe?

    August 23, 2012 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
  2. tet1953

    Remember the millions we gave with cellphone text messages and online? Most of it never made it to these people. A lot of it is unaccounted for. That is why they are in tents.

    August 23, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • kdmquito

      Its complicated.... millions were also not wasted!

      August 23, 2012 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Easy E

    Uh, yeah, duh, most Haitians would die of starvation were it not for NGO, UN, and charity handouts. Yes, there are a few farmers in Haiti but they produce nowhere near enough to feed everyone despite the fact that they have some of the best volcanic loamy soil in the world. The reason is that the island has been completely deforested, and also because none of them use modern ag techniques. But hey, go for it, cut off all the aid, if you want to starve them all be my guest, it might just scare them into action mode.

    August 23, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • kdmquito

      Huh – scare who into Action mode? Haitians are in action mode, have been for 100's of years, hard workers. Yes though they have learned dependency,...aid needs to be done differently. To start I think all missionary groups should either be prevented to go to Haiti or be told that their hand out model needs to stop...that is where the problem started from my perspective.

      August 23, 2012 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Hope 4 Haiti

    Thank God 4 DOCTORS W/OUT BORDERS! 93% of donations r used 4 the magnitude of patients they treat!:)

    August 23, 2012 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ches Nessman

    Reblogged this on Weather Without Walls!.

    August 23, 2012 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
  6. GM1953

    are you a christian?

    August 23, 2012 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bazoing

      What does that mean! Do you not think that there are families that have demonstrated some enterprise right here in the US and that they should get your alms before lazy self indulgent brutes?

      August 23, 2012 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      God is a delusion.

      August 24, 2012 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  7. Klaark

    Haiti, a county with no business regulations, building codes, or anything else to get in the way of the job creator's profits.

    Look at it. Take a good, long, HARD look at it. Mittens and friends like it so much they'd like to model America after it.

    August 23, 2012 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sadie

      And Bammy gave us the GSA and Solyndra scandals.

      Time for a CHANGE!

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

    If we put 10 year old asian children on that island, with no help from the outside world they would have a steel resort town built within 10 years. look at how they recovered after a nuclear disaster

    look at how african americans reacted after katrina

    August 23, 2012 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bazoing

      Race has nothing to do with it. Haiti is so screwed up that civilized ten year olds of any race could do better than Haitian adults.

      August 23, 2012 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • kdmquito

      What Bazoing said – this is not about race and you saying that shows your ignorance about the whole situation! Haitians are overall a VERY hard working, fabulous, proud people. Until you walk a mile in someone's shoes or going further to understand the history, the full picture, the complexities – you have no business judging it!

      August 23, 2012 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Cecilia Giménez

    Your post makes you no better than those you rail against.

    August 23, 2012 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bazoing

    What do they depend on? So many of them sell their children that the market place has bins full of human whips for sale.

    August 23, 2012 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ryan

    WASN'T US GONNA GIVE HAITI SOME RECOVERY MONEY?

    OH RIGHT – ONCE MEDIA ATTENTION CEASED – THAT NEVER MATERIALIZED....

    August 23, 2012 at 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • kdmquito

      We did and a lot of recovery has happened. Take a country that was/continues to be the poorest country in the western hemisphere and throw in an earthquake and expect a few laters for full recovery to be in place is outlandish thinking. Think of the US economy that hasn't bounced back – the leader of the free world, strongest economy in the world.... who are we to judge them. Its complicated...development takes time, no quick fixes, not band-aids!

      August 23, 2012 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
  12. bughunter

    Haiti is what the rest of the world would look like if the Randian Libertarians had their way with the planet. A few very, very wealthy elites and the remaining 99.999% starving and homeless. Take heed, USA.

    August 23, 2012 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
  13. AlongTheWay

    Great. It's drastically moved to the west, enough that if it nudges a little further west it'll be hitting Louisiana. Folks ho didn't listen last time – get out ahead of things this time. Dealing with the incredible surge of people was insane. Tents and RVs everywhere. Leave early enough so that this is not a national incident this time.

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

    You guys swear these people are on drugs and being irresponsible/trying to live a mundane life. The pressure of this messed up world has fallen on them and education is not a priory since there are no funds for college /scholarships . Also, there is no money to even have a welfare system....So yes international aide is needed. Also, try to imagine being born in such an area where there are no opportunities for work and are forced to buy dirt cookies on a credit system. That's what they have to look forward to and so they are angry and have booted all of their (corrupt) leaders. They kept the money. Think about that.

    August 23, 2012 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Clark Heintz

    God bless the hatians, and please let them dodge this bullet.

    August 23, 2012 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
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