Problems of unprecedented proportion, both those manmade and disasters caused by nature, continue to assault the Caribbean country of Haiti.
On Monday, The National Hurricane Center issued a deadly forecast for the country, already reeling from a 7.2-magnitude earthquake which struck with deadly force Saturday.
Rescue team continued their efforts on Tuesday, Aug. 17, facing further damage and more deaths and injuries after Tropical Storm Grace walloped the Caribbean nation with heavy rain. While some areas reported one to two inches of rain, isolated areas across the southern terrain reported rain in excess of 15 inches. Many fear the result will be flash and urban flooding and mudslides.
Earthquake damage to several major hospitals has hampered humanitarian efforts. Meanwhile, healthcare workers maintain their efforts to save the lives of scores of injured, including hundreds of young children and the elderly. Still, upon landing by plane in the capital city of Port-a-Prince, rescue teams must board a smaller plane to reach the hardest hit cities like Les Cayes, as many roads leading away from the capital and toward the south and west have been destroyed.
Survivors of the earthquake in Haiti clamored for food, shelter and medical care on Tuesday, many being forced to either sleep in open fields with the driving rain or huddle in damaged buildings that could come crashing down at any moment.
Forecasters believe Grace could reach hurricane strength by the time it approaches the Yucatan coast of Mexico later this week. Grace, which threatened Jamaica and Grand Cayman late Tuesday night, has held maximum sustained winds of 50 mph with higher gusts, according to The National Hurricane Center.
Ironically, the path of devastation continues to follow a similar route taken by a 7.0-magnitude earthquake which devastated Haiti in 2010 leaving more than 250,000 dead from which the nation has yet to fully recover.
The Haitian government has declared a state of emergency for the Western Department, Southern Department, Nippes and Grand’Ansewhile the country’s civil protection agency reported on Tuesday, that nearly 2,000 people have died with more than 9,915 injured. The quake reportedly destroyed 13,694 homes, damaged another 13,785and pushed hospitals to the brink, officials from the agency said on Sunday.
The earthquake struck near the town of Petit Trou de Nippes, located close to the capital city of Port-au-Prince. The cities of Les Cayes and Jeremie bore the brunt of the quake’s fury. Scientists reportedly noted that the quake possessed a seven-mile depth and residents 200 miles away in Jamaica felt the trembles.
Haitian Officials: Medical Care Remains Country’s Greatest Need
“When it comes to needs, medical needs are our biggest urgency,” Prime Minister Ariel Henry said Sunday. “We have started to send medications and medical personnel to the facilities that are affected. For the people who need urgent special care, we have evacuated a certain number of them and we will evacuate some more today and tomorrow.”
President Joe Biden voiced his concerns for the people of Haiti over the weekend.
“In what is already a challenging time for the people of Haiti, I am saddened by the devastating earthquake that occurred in Saint-Louis du Sud, Haiti,” President Joe Biden said in a statement.
“We send our deepest condolences to all those who lost a loved one or saw their homes and businesses destroyed. I have authorized an immediate U.S. response and named USAID Administrator Samantha Power as the senior U.S. official to coordinate this effort.”
Through USAID, President Biden said America supports efforts to assess the damage and assist efforts to recover those injured and those who must now rebuild.
However, efforts to provide essential aid to Haiti’s beleagueredrural environs, remain encumbered due to inaccessible roads either blocked by debris and mud and gangs reportedly robbing envoys as they attempt to deliver medicine, food and other needed items.
Adding to the turmoil, just four weeks ago, Haitian President Jovenel Moïse died at the hands of a team of assassins. The president’s murder touched off a manhunt for his killers and threw the country into even further political chaos.
“We’re concerned that this earthquake is just one more crisis on top of what the country is already facing – including the worsening political stalement that has occurred after the president’s assassination, COVID-19 and food insecurity,” Jean-Wickens Merone, a spokesman with World Vision Haiti, said in a statement.
Biden promised that America will not abandon Haiti.
“The United States remains a close and enduring friend to the people of Haiti and we will be there in the aftermath of this tragedy,” President Biden declared.