How Hurricane Season will Impact Earthquake Recovery in Haiti

The hurricane that shook Haiti in January of 2010, killed over 200,000 and left over a million more homeless. The initial quake was followed by 50 plus aftershocks that continued to wreak devastation on what structures were left. A major hurricane at this time, would destroy what was left and kill many more survivors who have been left unprotected.

The quake left the government buildings in shambles, and any form of local aid, ineffective, at best. It left the country without utilities, water, and even the most basic form of relief. After almost seven months, little has changed, and despite relief efforts and supplies from other countries, most of the homeless are still living in impromptu tent cities and makeshift structures. The most basic necessities of food, water, and medicines, that were hard to come by before the quake are even more difficult to find now.

Families are still separated, and children orphaned. Many methods of making a living, that were scarce to begin with, have been virtually destroyed, and the already shaky economy will take years, under perfect circumstances, to recover.

Even at its best, the people of Haiti were poor, living in homes that were easily destroyed by wind, water, or movement of the earth. Government programs were scarce, and assistance rare.

Since the quake, shipments of food, water and clothing have been arriving from governments and private organizations. The people of Haiti depend on the supplies that are flown or shipped in. Hurricane season poses a threat to these much needed goods, since any storms between Haiti and their benefactors would effectively shut down supply runs.

People living in hastily built structures or tents are no match for winds that may well be over 100 mph. And, the storm surge that results from a catastrophic hurricane would be deadly to populated areas so close to the water. It has taken several months to establish some sort of routine, basic as it is, in communities that are little more than refugee camps. However meager, this is all these people have left of their lives.

The Haitian government, which had no funds or restoration plans prior to the quake is still in the process of trying to pull itself together and rebuild. Funding, manpower, and resources are not available for another disaster. Food, water, medicines and rescue personnel are not available if another catastrophe hits this devastated country. Even countries with adequate facilities find it hard to bounce back after a major hurricane, and for a country like Haiti, it would be nearly impossible.