Monday, September 15, 2008

Storm-Weary Haitians Complain Of Need, Lack Of Aid

Residents of an area of Haiti hit hard by Hurricane Ike say they are not receiving adequate relief.


CABARET, Haiti --
Even as local Haitian musicians and business owners prepared for a benefit concert and telethon taking place in the capital Sunday, residents of nearby communities where consecutive storms carved a deadly path complained of receiving little help.

''Nothing has gone to Cazale,'' Famize Jedeus, 27, a vendor from the mountain village just north of Port-au-Prince said as she stood alongside a highway, trying to sell the last bunch of plantains she managed to pull from underneath a flooded grove. ``We, the victims of the hurricane, can't find anything.''

Aid was slowly trickling in, but it wasn't enough.

With an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 people in this region alone affected by Hurricane Ike, officials were struggling to provide food and water to the 2,330 staying at a shelter, let alone others living on the street.

As U.S. and UN military helicopters buzzed overhead, life slowly seemed to return to this ravaged shantytown. Among the signs: a group of Cuban doctors, parked alongside a rural road, mending cuts and bruises and providing medication.

At the entrance of another nearby village, hundreds of children and adults screamed and pushed as a local church pastor and scouts handed out 500 plastic bags filled with rice, spaghetti and cooking oil from the back of a white cargo truck.

But down the street, the need -- and the lack of aid -- was glaring as the local Red Cross struggled to treat the steady flow of storm victims alongside a busy street. The treatment room was a dusty lot, shaded by a blue tarp, across from the Taboula Nightclub.

Instead of surgical masks, nurses covered their faces with gauze as they poured peroxide into open wounds.

A few feet away, coordinator Dieudonne Jean and two assistants cataloged the patients' names and injuries on a yellow legal-size notepad.

Behind the three of them: just a few dozen tiny bags of drinking water and bread donated by a local church ministry.

''We don't have anything in stock, just that water there to give to the population,'' said Jean, turning around and pointing to a clear trash bag on the ground.

''We don't have a lot of means,'' said Jean, reciting an exhaustive list of needs -- from surgical masks and medicines to water tablets and an ambulance to transport patients. ``What we have is our list. We put together a case for each family, listing what they need. When we are finished, we take what we have and provide what we can to each family.''

According to their list, 71 people died in Cabaret when two raging rivers overflowed their banks. Twenty-five remain missing, and 2,330 are homeless.

Then there are the psychological scars. Yvany St. Louis, 35, said her three daughters haven't had a good night sleep since their baby sister was washed away by the floods that snatched her out of her arms.

''They are very emotional,'' said St. Louis, who came to the makeshift clinic for treatment of an open gash on her swollen left leg.

There were a few signs of normalcy. Vendors peddled produce salvaged from flooded groves at a makeshift market. And at the river's edge, where bodies and drowned animals had washed up days earlier, women sat on the debris of fallen houses, doing laundry.

Source: MiamiHerald.Com

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