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. Air Compressor Sales

    If any average American citizen were to donate funds to Haiti, how much actually goes directly to helping Haiti?

    August 23, 2012 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
  2. truthis sad

    What do all of the places have in common?

    haiti, jamaica, detroit, compton, watts, somalia, liberia, uganda, ethiopa

    The entire globe not 1 nice neighborhood. White man's fault or genetics??

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

      Einstein......You also forgot to add GREECE and SPAIN to your eloquent and thoughtful list

      August 25, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  3. polycarp pio

    I have supported Haitian orphans for many years,I only give directly to the front line people, not to big organizations that may or may not get it to the poor folks who need the help. Dont just throw your money at any talking head that says they will help, do a through investigation and God bless you for blessing the people of Haiti. Pax Et Bonum. PP

    August 24, 2012 at 12:01 am | Report abuse |
  4. kdmquito

    Wow the ignorance and racism of people posting on this.... I am ashamed to be an American right now – is this what we've become! The majority of people posting here seem to be a) ignorant and uninformed, b) racist and c) hateful. I hope that your perfect little bubble world never falls down upon you and you don't find yourself in a dire situation. Get a grip!

    August 24, 2012 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
  5. Gryla

    Dear Lord! The poor Caribbean!

    First it had to endure the BP Oil spill and now it's facing another mass-contamination when all the black people in Haiti are swept into the ocean!

    The silver lining is that at least the sharks will all be well-fed before they die of AIDS.

    August 24, 2012 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
    • kdmquito

      OMG the hate you have!

      August 24, 2012 at 12:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Gryla

      On the contrary, I am quite concerned about the impact on the Caribbean ecosystem with all that tainted meat in the water.

      Perhaps Sea Shepherd can bring in a garbage scow and do a body sweep to help contain the virus.

      August 24, 2012 at 1:02 am | Report abuse |
    • DE AMPOX

      if i were in HAITI i could relocate to other continent such as AFRICA. i really feel sorry for this people but atleast something must be done so that immediately.

      August 24, 2012 at 7:28 am | Report abuse |
  6. The story

    CNN please do a story abt the successes in Haiti, the hope and pride and development that has occurred in Haiti – your readers need that – this only continues to feed their ignorance, and your story just focuses once again on the bad. Don't turn into Fox News!

    August 24, 2012 at 12:30 am | Report abuse |
  7. snowdogg

    i want to feel sorry for the haitians, but it isn't easy

    August 24, 2012 at 12:45 am | Report abuse |
  8. olakul

    i hope they can get over it soon. The fact that, it is not easy at all.
    amen 😦

    August 24, 2012 at 1:27 am | Report abuse |
  9. shaun c.

    I never understood it. We have hunger & poverty in our own country (America) yet rather than donating money to help that we waste donation dollars on worthless Haitians who live in tents and are gonna get wiped out in another hurricane anyway. Why aren't we eager to help our own first instead of trying to solve the World's problems.

    August 24, 2012 at 4:38 am | Report abuse |
  10. HelpHaiti

    First of all, they are already starving, make no mistake about that. Sponsor a child or a family, talk to them, get to know them and you see what the REAL story is and not what the US is fed. And for those of you who are making fun of Haiti for not being prepared, let me ask you....where? Where are they suppose to go? Their back-up tent? Perhaps their back-up puddle? Back-up tree? Back-up spot in the air? I mean, for christ's sake, how about showing some human decency and compassion. It is VERY obvious that your brain just can't handle the sadness and so you are just saying such awful things to make YOURSELF feel better about it. How about being the change you want to see in this world and do something?? At the very least just shut the hell up and feel grateful for what you have and not hateful for those who are going through a devastating way of life. Do you also stand outside cancer wards and yell at people that it's their fault for getting cancer? I mean, good lord.

    August 24, 2012 at 9:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Evah

      Boy, you hit the nail right on the head. I want to say thank you so much for you post.

      August 24, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Waggie

    The Greed in within their own government. How can your people live well if you take it all for yourself.

    August 24, 2012 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
  12. Waggie

    And why would you keep having babies in a world where you can't even feed yourself..Even china is regulated to one child per couple..AND AGAIN I STRESS THE GREED WITHIN THE COUNTRY IT SELF.

    August 24, 2012 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
  13. franky

    A lot of you commenting on Haiti are a bunch of racist and ignorant people who don't know a dawn thing about the contry and the people. Haitian people are proud and hard working peolpe. My advice to the Haitian people is kick all foreigners, missionaries and specially UN out of their country. because they are they one sucking the country dry. they want things to remain the way it is so that they can steal all the resources right under them. this world has no room for people like Aex and others who make racist comments on people who have been shook up by mother nature numerest.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
  14. norma

    Those "used shoes" the man is selling have a remarkably "freshly stolen" look to them.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  15. Joe

    relocate Haiti to Texas

    August 24, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8