terça-feira, 24 de abril de 2012

''Haitians in fear of hurricanes''

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In a country as poor as this one, a strong wind and some rain can be deadly. Last year four consecutive tropical storms flooded the city of Gonaives, in the northern part of the island. The damages provoked sum up to one billion dollars in losses and killed about 800 people.
Haitians tell me they are afraid of the rain and the damages it can bring about.
Even now, when the hurricane season has just started, once it starts raining, some people seek refuge in churches, fearing the water and the strong currents of mud that come down from the mountains. 
Haiti's landscape is filled with them, but they are denuded. This country has about one percent of its trees left. Over the centuries they have been cut down by the French and Spanish colonizers, the country's business elite and the poor people whose main source of energy is charcoal.
I visited a family who has lost everything and whose son died when the house collapsed last week. Whatever was left of it was buried underneath a mountain of dry mud. What continues to shock me in this country is that people do not expect any kind of help. It's like they have lost hope that anything will change.
Donor countries have pledged to give Haiti about $300 million in aid this year but so far only $21 million has actually been disbursed. Haiti is struggling to recover from last year’s storms and continues to be poorly prepared for this year's hurricane season.

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