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News+Politics
Haiti Left Devastated By Yet Another Disaster; Country’s PM Calls Hurricane Sandy A Crisis Of “Major
October 31, 2012
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Haiti-Left-Devastated-By-Yet-Another-Disaster-Country's-PM-calls-Hurricane-Sandy-a-crisis-of-major-proportions-feature1.jpg

As big a disaster as Hurricane Sandy is for the United States, it is perhaps even more devastating for a country like Haiti.

No doubt, New York City and New Jersey are in terrible shape. But ultimately, they're capable of rebuilding. It might take a while, but they'll eventually do it.

In a place as poor as Haiti, there's no talk of rebuilding - at least not in the way the United States talks about it.

In Haiti, people are just struggling to survive yet another crushing blow from nature.

As Mark Doyle of the BBC wrote "Haiti was hit when it was already down. But the astonishing truth is that a casual visitor to Haiti probably wouldn't even notice this new wave of misery."

Haiti didn't take a direct hit from Sandy, but it was still powerful - killing more than 50 people and bringing heavy rain - about 50 cm in just four days.

Just for perspective, that's the same amount - on average - that London, England gets in a year.

Much of that rain rushed down mountains that have lost most of their trees because of over-farming. Most rivers in the south of the country burst their banks.

Haiti's Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe has called it a "disaster of major proportions".

"We have a lot of work ahead of us in terms of the aid that we will need to deliver in the days, weeks and months to come," Lamothe said. "It won't be easy because there are many roads and bridges that have been cut off."

The storm has left as many as 20,000 people homeless and up to 200,000 homes damaged.

That's on top of 400,000 people who are still homeless from the January 2010 earthquake, despite billions of dollars that was promised in international aid.

Plus, in August, Haiti was hit by Tropical Storm Isaac.

Haiti-Left-Devastated-By-Yet-Another-Disaster-Country's-PM-calls-Hurricane-Sandy-a-crisis-of-major-proportions-feature2.jpg "There are still a lot of people in tents," said France Hurtubise, a spokesperson for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Port-au-Prince.

"Every time there is a disaster, they are hurt the worst," she told the New York Times.

With this storm, the high winds tossed thousands of tents around and ripped through the tarps.

Many tents were flooded, leaving many people to sleep on soaking wet beds.

The Red Cross and Oxfam are handing out hygiene kits and water purification tablets, because flooding and dirty water could lead to an even bigger outbreak of cholera.

Haiti has been dealing with an epidemic for the past two years. More than 7,500 people have died. More than half a million have got sick. And hundreds of new cases are still being reported every week.

The video below was shot by The Bri Kouri Nouvèl Gaye (Noise Travels, News Spreads) - a team of six independent Haitian journalists who grew up in the poor neighbourhoods of Port-au-Prince.

They are affiliated with an organization called 'Let Haiti Live', which works to strengthen the independence of the Haitian people.

Have a look. It gives you a raw and personal look at what people are facing.

Food shortages are another big concern.

Sandy destroyed more than 70% of crops in southern Haiti - including bananas, plantains and maize.

"We'll have famine in the coming days," Kechner Toussaint, the mayor of Abricots, in southern Haiti told Reuters. "It's an agricultural disaster."

Aid agencies are now working to hand out food and seeds to try to help offset the destroyed crops.

"These rains will have an impact for months to come," Oxfam official Amelie Gauthier told The Guardian.

"All it takes is the loss of one or two lemon trees and some families here will no longer be able to afford to send their children to school."

The United Nations is planning an appeal for more emergency aid.

"Haiti is trying to get its house in order, but each time disaster strikes, the progress is interrupted," said Johan Peleman, head of the UN's office for the co-ordination of humanitarian affairs.

He said humanitarian funding for Haiti has dropped from $2 billion in 2010 to just $75 million this year.

The government has received praise for doing all it can, and as part of a new program, the Red Cross sent out mass text messages and set up hot lines.

But disaster after disaster is taking its toll.

Here's more video of Haiti from the Weather Channel.

Prime Minister Lamothe said big decisions need to be made because "the state cannot continually be on the defensive every time it rains or there is a flood. We have to invest in prevention."

Trouble is, more bad weather could be coming.

One meteorological official told a local paper "In November we may see more hurricanes. So if the government doesn't work hard to protect the people Haiti will know a very hard time by the end of this year."

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Former NHL Enforcer Georges Laraque On His Work In Haiti

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