CARE visits Haitian town flooded by hurricane


by Marie-Eve
Bertrand, CARE Haiti Emergency Team

09:00, Nov. 6, 2010

Saturday was a busy day for CARE's team. I spent the day with CARE teams on their field visit to Léogâne. When we arrived in the downtown area, I was shocked by the level and the strength of water in the streets. The Rouyonne River had overflowed. Once again. And it has washed away a substantial part of downtown.

People are walking in the knee-deep water filled with garbage, human waste, bugs, and what else...

Women and men were cleaning their houses or shelters, removing the mud and trying to make it look clean. Truth is, I am concerned that a broomstick is not enough to sanitize a place that was filled with filthy water.

Yet, amazingly, not everyone we met was in despair. Indy, a young women living with her mom, was cleaning their little brick house. Her mom was telling me it was enough, it had to stop. She was cleaning her clothes as Indy was removing the muddy water from the one room they use as a kitchen, living room, dining room and bed room. Indy was smiling to me, and I asked her if she was upset. She said, "No ... What would it change?"

CARE visits Haitian town flooded by hurricane image 1

(Indy cleaning her house in Léogâne after Hurricane Tomas flooded the town. Photo: Marie-Eve Bertrand/CARE)

I stopped to visit the family living in CARE's first temporary shelter. I remember meeting her this summer, as she was just about to move in. It would have been great to meet her in a better situation. She lost everything but her family in January. This time, their belongings were pilled up, the mattress was wet, the walls were dirty, and her ti-moun (child) was hungry.

She looked at the sky and said: "This is an act of God, what else can I say? But it's enough. I want fresh food for my kids, I don't want them to be sick. There are very few latrines here. People do their things in bags and throw them in the canal. It was always like that. Now the canal is overflowing."

(Read more about CARE's work helping survivors have a sturdy roof over their heads and a strong foundation to rebuild their lives. Photo: Marie-Eve Bertrand/CARE)

Yes, it is. And I saw those bags floating around. Filled with human waste. While kids were playing around ...

Cholera, of course, is on the mind of everyone, including the CARE staff. Sunday, our CARE team distributed help to 9500 beneficiaries in Léôgane. We gave them aquatabs, Hygiene kits or BP5 (high energy biscuits) based on their needs. The response is done in partnerships with the other NGO's on the ground.

In Bino Lester, a grandma walked up to me. Her crops had flooded. She was frustrated. Enough, she said. This has to stop. Even the strong people of Haiti have their limits.

Tomorrow, I head to Gonaïves, where a CARE team will continue distributions and raise awareness of health risks such as cholera. The flooding was quite serious there. I might see another smile like Indy's. But given the triple-dose of disaster in Haiti these days, it would not surprise me if I did not.