Mark Stevenson and Evens Sanon
Les Cayes, Haiti – Heavy rains from tropical cyclone Grace temporarily suspended the Haitian government’s response to a deadly weekend earthquake on Tuesday, increasing the anger and frustration of thousands of homeless people. I did.
Grace hit southwestern Haiti, which was hardest hit in Saturday’s quake, and officials warned it could rain 15 inches in some areas before the storm progresses. Heavy rains also flooded the capital Port-au-Prince.
The storm hit Haiti late Monday. On the same day, the National Civil Protection Agency brought the number of people killed and injured in the earthquake to 1,419. Many had to wait for medical assistance lying outside in the scorching heat.
When it rained on Tuesday in the earthquake-damaged city of Les Cayes, patience was at an end in the poorest country in the western hemisphere. Haitians were already suffering from the coronavirus, gang violence, exacerbation of poverty and the assassination of President Jovenel Moise on July 7 during the earthquake.
The bodies continued to be removed from the rubble, and the three-story, crepe-painted apartment smelled of death. The body of a 3-year-old girl found by a firefighter an hour ago was covered with simple sheets.
Neighbor Joseph Boyer, 53, said he knew the girl’s family.
“My mother and father are in the hospital, but all three children are deceased,” he said. The bodies of the other two brothers had already been discovered.
Illustrating the lack of government presence, volunteer firefighters from the nearby town of Cap-Haitien left their bodies in the rain as they had to be present before the police were taken away.
Another neighbor, James Luxama, 24, repeated popular rumors on many disaster sites, saying someone was texting from the rubble asking for help. However, Luxama has not personally seen or received such a message.
A large number of men screaming in front of the collapsed building is a sign of exhaustion of patience.
“Photographers go through the press, but there are no tarpaulins on the roof,” said a man who declined to name him. Jerry Chandler, head of the Haiti Civil Protection Agency, acknowledged the situation.
“People are getting aggressive,” Chandler said Tuesday, when heavy rains had to suspend assessment of the earthquake.
About 20 soldiers eventually appeared to help the rescue team in the collapsed building.
The lack of adequate assistance was made more evident by the fact that the only assistance that arrived was from unequipped volunteers.
“We only have a hammer and hands. That’s the plan, ”said Randy Rodder, a Canadian volunteer who is the principal of Adlation Christian School in Haiti.
Sara Charles, deputy administrator of the United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs at USAID, said the disaster response team had to close due to the storm on Monday, but members returned on Tuesday to assess the impact. , Continued to support.
“We do not expect the death toll associated with this earthquake to be close to that of 2010, which killed more than 200,000 people,” Charles told reporters.
The extent of the damage was not comparable to 2010, she added.
John Morrison, spokesperson for Fairfax Co. (Va.) Urban Search and Rescue, said the team is still trying to find survivors. On Monday, two US Coast Guard helicopters transported researchers to six affected communities.
“The team reports that food, medical services, clean water, sanitation, sanitation and shelter are all priorities,” Morrison said. “We have yet to find any sign of a living person trapped in a building,” he said.
Rain and wind caused landslides and threats of flash floods as Grace slowly traversed the Tiburon Peninsula in southwest Haiti before heading into Jamaica and southeast Cuba. Forecasters have said it could be a hurricane before it hits Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
Officials say a 7.2 magnitude earthquake destroyed more than 7,000 homes, damaged nearly 5,000 and left around 30,000 families homeless. Hospitals, schools, offices and churches were also demolished or badly damaged.
Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry told reporters on Monday that “we are in an exceptional situation” as a tropical cyclone approaches.
In Jeremy, Police Secretary Paul Menard denied social media coverage of the post-earthquake looting.
“If that had happened, it would have been the night of the first or second day,” Menard said.
Structural engineers from Miyamoto International, a global seismic and structural engineering company, visited the heavily damaged areas on Monday to help with damage assessment and search and rescue operations. Company CEO and chairman Kit Miyamoto said their main mission is to inspect damaged government water towers and offices of local charities.
Miyamoto said he saw the quake-hit area recover more strongly. He said masons and others improved their building practices after Port-au-Prince was destroyed in the catastrophic 2010 earthquake. People there felt the quake on Saturday morning and rushed to west about 75 miles down the street, but no damage was reported in the capital.
“The building in Port-au-Prince is much better than it was in 2010. I know that,” Miyamoto said. “It’s a big difference, but this knowledge is not widespread. The focus is definitely on Port-au-Prince.
Contributed by Associated Press writer Trenton Daniel of New York and Christopher Sherman of Mexico.
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