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. Profit

    We are very worried in Haiti. If more damage happens to our country, Sean Penn will never leave.

    August 24, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Stefan

    right now I am so mad at CNN or any other news broadcaster for this matter.

    All news broadcaster saying most of the people in Haiti are not aware the storm is coming. Well why including CNN don't do anything about it!!!!!! How hard can it be to hire a helicopter or 2 and fly over the most populated areas and warn them.

    With reporting news come as well responsibility's and spare me comments like we are in the news business and not in the relieve business. You are in the human business. I don't aspect you fighting a war in Syria but here you as a broadcaster can save human lives. If you cannot afford hire cost please sent me your account details happy to fund it.

    Please do not get me wrong I think CNN is a very good news broadcaster but where you can be proactive why you not help and not just wait the disasters happens and make money to report from it?

    August 24, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • RonalRegan

      I texted them for you and told them about the storm. No problems.

      August 24, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Raz

    At around 900 people per square mile, there are just too many people there.

    August 24, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. BillyRay

    How much money has the world poured into Haiti ....and they are still living in tents and have no roads or sewers ?

    August 24, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • BillyRay

      Well to answer my own question:
      Between the fiscal years of 1995 and 1999, the U.S. contributed roughly $884 million in assistance to Haiti.

      August 24, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mark0

    If you zoom in on a satellite map you can see the tent citied. Pray for Them to be safe.

    August 24, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  6. lofter

    Haiti is a waste of time and money. Haiti is hopeless because of the people who live there. Just like every where else "Haitians" live in large numbers. Pathological altruism is a disease.

    August 24, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • harry nutts

      So true. Waste of money.

      August 24, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • ricksta

      Your country may not be hopeless despite people like you.

      August 24, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jesus is the most powerful figure known to mankind

      It is a waste of money to help other human beings in need? It upsets me everyday knowing that i live in the same world with people like you.

      August 24, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • joan

      Haiti is a beautiful country and I will be praying for them. It saddens me that people are so careless. People are still living in tents and are homeless.

      August 24, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Susan

      It was a waste to for nearly every single American who felt sorry for the devastation to send money to have them 'rebuild' their government buildings with it and leave the very people we were trying to help in tents.

      August 25, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Davehuckle

    Haiti has gone through so much over the past few years and now another hurricane is about to hit them head on? I hope that there is no loss of life.

    August 24, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. HollywoodPR

    Haitians brace for the worst? What's that, being in Haiti?

    August 24, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Timothy

    Now if I believed in Karma, I'd say this is some kind of payback for all those years of harboring Santeria cults. But the question I would like answered is: How can this country have lived in the path of Atlantic storms for centuries now and still done nothing significant to prepare for them? I'm sure the U.S. is to blame here somehow, right?

    August 24, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Save Haiti

    All this talk of Syria and money spent in Afghanistan, and yet, just off our coast we allow Haiti to live in sustained crisis. We should help those people, they have done nothing against the United States. An impoverished nation, with limited resources but an eyesore of the western hemisphere. In the broad spectrum of the globe, Haiti is a small, fixable problem.

    August 24, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Dennis Savoie

    Haiti can use many Left over Katrina trailers in Louisiana.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tanya

      I agree with you Dennis. There is more that can be done. I do believe somehow some monies missed the mark in helping Haitians. Monies will need to administered by an independent group of members of various organizations or countries to oversee the disbursement in a proper manner. We don't hear about the solar Haiti programs, green Haiti planting trees. Its just that there are too many tent camps that overshadow the work that is being done.

      August 26, 2012 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
  12. chuck

    let's help preserve life. let's pray that the Haitians be spared from this ordeal.

    August 24, 2012 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Gryla

    Dear Lord, hasn't the Caribbean been through enough???

    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 25, 2012 at 1:16 am | Report abuse |
    • nikki

      It's so interesting to me that hateful trash like you haven't been swept into the ocean.. the sheer uneducated stupidity on your part is nothing less than shocking.. I would be surprised if you can walk and chew gum at the same time.

      August 25, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. warsteiner

    How long has it been two years, What are they all waiting for. Do they plan on living in a tent city perminately hand them down to the next generation. Hey Obama you want to let in people shut down Mexico;s boarder and let these poor in. They need to get help more then the mexican's do. These are the type of people we should help out not people who have a place to live already.

    August 25, 2012 at 6:13 am | Report abuse |
  15. Howie

    Haitians are human beings and have had many horrible natural and political disasters in their long history. They deserve better. I have visited Haiti and have looked into the eyes of these poor people in need of so much. I am a white male with many African American friends. My daughters best friend is Haitian and we love her very much. The infrastructure of Haiti has not been able to respond to the needs of the people. Clean water , medical supplies , housing ect has not been provided by the powers that be. If the leadership of Haiti would show the world that they have made some progress in aiding the 400,000 people that live in tents the nations of the world would not forget about the Haitian people that are suffering. Imagine living in those conditions what kind of hope can you have? Hope is what keeps people going. Without a safe place to live ,clean water , medication, good sanitation how can we expect reversal of this human disaster. I am a Republican not a religious man but a human being.

    August 26, 2012 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
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