Hôpital Albert Schweitzer Haiti

Saving Lives, Changing Lives

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

In the Aftermath of the Flood

On Monday morning following the rains and the flood, the HAS managers of the UN Cash-for-Work project allocated more than 100 workers, who had been cleaning local canals or fixing roads, to the flooded areas. Using wheelbarrows, shovels, and other tools from the project, they joined the people in the mud filled courtyards to clear out the piles of trees and branches, and to clear the mud from the house floors.

Some of the women collected the clothes from the houses and washed them, putting them out to dry on fence lines and bushes. By the end of the day, most of the large debris had been cleared, and the houses had been emptied of the furniture to be assessed for future use. Many households had mattresses, but few had bed frames, and thus were soaked with muddy water. When they are dry, most of them will be burned.

The physical, visible, effects of the flood have started to disappear, but the sense of loss and having been invaded by a powerful force will remain for a long time. The HAS team of psychologists, who have been supporting the needs of the earthquake victims who live in this region, will go to the flood areas tomorrow to conduct group therapy sessions, and to try to help them to deal with the sense of insecurity which comes from such a powerful event and it losses.

While the force of the flood was greatest as it passed by the narrow channel behind the market, it gained strength from a web of small watersheds, each of which contributed a rapid flow of water, mud and debris into the main channel. This morning, one of our security guards, who had volunteered to help other families the day before, shared with me that he cannot get into or out of his house, because one of the upstream feeder channels, which is usually a small stream, had flooded and swerved, washing away the gentle slope to his front door. Now there is a steep ravine in front of his gate. Later today he will cut a new gate in the back fence, and negotiate with his neighbor the rights to pass through his courtyard to get to his house."

As always in Haiti, volunteers came from all over the community, to assist the people in the flooded zones, and to show solidarity with them, in the face of a tragedy which might have affected any of them.

Weather forecasters have been predicting for months that a punishing hurricane season is on the horizon. We are watchful and hoping for the best for all of the people of Haiti.

Ian Rawson
Managing Director