September 19, 2021

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Earthquake-Struck Haiti is Lashed by Heavy Rains After Storm Hits – The New York Times

3 min read

After Tropical Storm Grace made its way across Haiti, which was already reeling from a devastating earthquake, videos circulating on social networks on Tuesday showed heavy rains pummeling towns and villages, bringing the risk of flash floods and landslides.

In one video, a man could be seen making his way through muddy water that had flooded a street up to his waist on Monday, when the storm struck. Another video showed floodwaters rushing across a street and inundating nearby homes.

“It’s totally turned into a river,” a man is heard saying in the video, which appeared to have been shot in the city of Jacmel, on Haiti’s southern coast.

Heavy rains also pelted people who had huddled in fields, many of them forced to leave homes damaged in the 7.2-magnitude earthquake, and others who had sought safety outdoors because of a fear of aftershocks that could cause further collapses.

One video posted on Monday showed dozens of people trying to take shelter under plastic tarpaulins provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development, which has sent help to Haiti, as they were hit by gusts of wind that had blown down their campsite. Earlier in the day, chaotic scenes occurred near overcrowded shelters as dozens of people jostled to find a place to stay before the storm hit the country, according to images from the French public news broadcaster France 24.

In a message posted on Twitter on Monday night, the civil protection agency of Haiti said that heavy rainfall in the southern region was making the situation for displaced people even more challenging and called on residents whose homes had not been affected to help shelter them.

Investigations into the killing of Mr. Moïse — by assailants who stormed his residence near the capital, Port-au-Prince — have stalled. The newly installed government is vulnerable, the result of a fragile compromise between politicians who jockeyed for power for days after the killing.

As Grace made landfall in Haiti, the authorities were still rushing to bring aid to the country’s southwest, which was devastated in the deadly earthquake just two days earlier.

The quake has killed more than 1,400 people and injured nearly 7,000 others — a toll that is expected to rise. UNICEF estimated on Tuesday that about 1.2 million people, including 540,000 children, had been affected by the earthquake.

Thousands of homes have been destroyed, as well as dozens of schools, churches and health centers, according to reports by local authorities.

Memories of the crippling 2010 earthquake — and the shambolic humanitarian response that followed — are still vivid in the minds of Haitians, and the government has promised a more effective reaction this time. But the shipping of aid to the southwest has been hampered by logistical issues and medical facilities are lacking in that part of the country.

Prime Minister Ariel Henry said on Sunday that all aid received by the country would be handled by a single operations center in Port-au-Prince to avoid having humanitarian assistance arrive “in disorder,” as it often did in 2010, leaving many people excluded from rescue efforts.

In the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, the country earned the nickname “The Republic of NGOs” after nongovernmental organizations became the main channel for humanitarian assistance, essentially filling the void left by weak government institutions.

Several countries, like Mexico, have flown aid to Haiti in recent days and the United States has sent a search-and-rescue team. On Tuesday, the European Union announced that it was allocating 3 million euros, about $3.5 million, in humanitarian funding to help affected communities.

“The E.U. is quickly mobilizing support to this already extremely fragile country, where hurricanes and heavy rainfalls aggravate the dire situation even more,” Janez Lenarcic, the bloc’s commissioner for crisis management, said in a statement.

Paul Farmer, a physician and co-founder of the relief agency Partners in Health, which oversees several hospitals in Haiti, said that the country had established new emergency medical services in the intervening years, largely improving its ability to respond to an earthquake.

“This time around,” he said, “the idea is: How can we coordinate the response so that it doesn’t become a burden for the Haitians?”

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