Mar 19, 2010 12:27 PM by Katie Durio

Homeless Camps Flooded in Haiti After Heavy Rainfall


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

panicking thousands.

      The overnight downpour sent water coursing down the slopes of a

former golf course that now serves as a temporary home for about

45,000 people.

      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

teach school.

      "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

particular danger.

      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.




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