Mar 19, 2010 12:27 PM by Katie Durio
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - One of the heaviest rainfalls since
Haiti's Jan. 12 earthquake swamped homeless camps Friday, sweeping
screaming residents into eddies of water, overflowing latrines and
The overnight downpour sent water coursing down the slopes of a
former golf course that now serves as a temporary home for about
There were no reports of deaths in the camp, a town-size maze of
blue, orange and silver tarps located behind the country club used
by the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne as a forward-operating base.
But the deluge terrified families who just two months ago
survived the collapse of their homes in the magnitude-7 earthquake
and are now struggling to make do in tent-and-tarp camps that
officials have repeatedly said must be relocated.
"I was on one side (of the tarp), the children were on the
other side and I was trying to push the water out," Jackquine
Exama, a 34-year-old mother of seven, said through tears.
"I'm not used to this," she said.
Aid workers said people were swept screaming into eddies of
water and flows ripped down tents an Israeli aid group is using to
"They were crying. There was just fear down there. It was
chaos," said Jim Wilson of the aid group Praecipio, who came
running from his own shelter up the hill when he heard the screams.
After the sun rose Friday, people used sticks and their bare
hands to dig drainage ditches around their tarps and shanties.
Marie Elba Sylvie, 50, could not decide whether it was worth
repairing damage to her lean-to of scrap wood and plastic.
"It could be fixed but when it rains again it will be the same
problem," said the 50-year-old mother of four.
Standing water and mud also pervaded a tarp-and-tent city on the
outskirts of Cite Soleil, several miles away. Residents waded
through the shallow flood collecting their belongings.
Officials know they must move many of the 1.3 million people
displaced by the earthquake before the rainy season starts in
earnest in April. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters
at the golf-course camp Sunday that the people living there were in
But after two months of searching and wrangling with landowners,
the government has still not opened any of the five promised
relocation sites that are better able to withstand rain and
aftershocks on the capital's northeastern outskirts.
Aid groups are also struggling to open their own camps.
"It's been frustrating to us because we need to have those
sites in order to build something ... better. Until we can do that
people have no incentive to move," U.N. humanitarian chief John
Holmes told The Associated Press during Ban's visit.
"We're running out of time, honestly," Holmes said.
9 hours ago