“The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the Lord will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.” Isaiah 41:17
Hi! The medical team has gone and the major injuries in the area are now taken care of. Some of the people still need to go for dressing changes and we bring them to the Belgian tent hospital over on Delmas 33. The health care concerns now for Port-au-Prince are diseases. There are now cases of diarrhea, measles and tetanus being seen. Vaccination campaigns are being planned.
With the large amount of need for water and food for the people of Port-au-Prince it took a couple of weeks for the large humanitarian aid machine to get moving. In the beginning we saw no aid going out and saw it sitting at the airport. Jeff was very proactive in our trips to the airport and we were able to get some tents, tarps, water, food and even a diesel generator! Jeff wanted to give food distribution a try and I warned him to be careful. It is a good thing that the guys were armed with a taser and pepper spray because they barely escaped with the clothes on their back! The last couple of boxes of food Jeff heaved so that the people would run after it and not him. The US military is on the ground now and helping to provide security for the food distribution sites. On Saturday the military was doing a reconnaissance in the neighborhood and on Sunday a large distribution site was set up for food by International Child Care/St. Louis school. The US military has blocked this area and no pedestrian or vehicle traffic is allowed in the distribution zone. The aid is only distributed to women and children who have special cards because the men have been causing troubles at the prior distributions. The last couple of days we have seen lots of people carrying food aid on their heads back to their homes.
Water distributions have been easier. A lot of water trucks are appearing at refuge sites handing out water. We have seen drinking water trucks going around too. We have been receiving some food assistance from a couple of Haitian organizations as well. One organization is called “Aimer Haiti”. The aid was placed in individual sacs and we handed these out to the families living in the yard, Pastor Octave’s group and Pastor Marcelin’s group. The large clean up effort of damaged and destroyed buildings has begun. There are groups of people with yellow t-shirts showing that they are supported by USAID working at clearing public spaces and sidewalks. Recyclers are at work removing the rebar from destroyed buildings. The rebar then gets sent to local scrap recyclers.
Unicef and Save the Children are working at helping all the homeless, abandoned and orphaned children created by the earthquake. Save the Children is working to register unaccompanied children living on the streets as well as distributing food to them. Unicef is setting up “Security Spaces” for children where shelter, food, water and medicine can be found. They are working with the children to help find lost families or new placements for orphaned children. Their objective is to set up different centers around the city and to house 200,000 children who are at risk. Pray for the efforts of those working to help all these displaced children. I am going to start calling Manu “Tom Sawyer”. Manu is getting to be very adventurous. He went with another boy this week on a quest to find and visit the US Military at the airport. The other boy is Kervens, the grandson of Mdm. Lukner who used to be our cook. They found the military alright but they also got labeled as displaced children. We got a call saying that Manu and Kervens were at an orphanage on Rte. Nationale #1. Pray that we can keep a better eye on “Tom Sawyer” and his adventurous spirit.
Our neighborhood has been quieter during the evening the last week. The first week there was quite a bit of shooting. After the earthquake the police and UN were not visible in our area at least and the neighborhood formed an armed “Brigade Civil” They patrolled the neighborhood watching out for thieves. That first week 3 thieves were killed. One of these thieves was caught, dragged behind a vehicle and left on the street. In the morning the bodies were being loaded onto a pickup truck and an AP photographer who was there noticed that one of the thieves was still alive. The person who loaded the thief told the AP guy that he would still go to the morgue, as he wouldn’t live. Street justice is now instant justice. Ever since the night of the thief being dragged through the streets the neighborhood has been much quieter! I think that word got out. There are 7,000 escaped prisoners on the streets of Port-au-Prince. Ana Julie was a teacher here at Coram Deo who was killed along with her cousin 3 years ago in their home. The killer was caught and was in the National Penitentiary the last couple of years. He is now one of the escaped prisoners out on the streets. Jn. Eddy saw him in a refuge camp that we were visiting. They both recognized each other and Jn. Eddy went one way and Ana Julie’s killer went the other. It was unnerving for Jn. Eddy to see this. He is avoiding the refuge camp where he saw the guy. The earthquake has seriously affected the police force. Before the earthquake there were 8,000 in the ranks of the Haitian police. 70 policemen were killed during the earthquake and another 500 are missing and unaccounted for. Over 400 policemen have been injured. Currently there are only about 3,400 policemen who have answered the call and are out on the streets. Pray for all those providing security for the city and that the police force can rebuild and continue to improve on its effectiveness.
The Port-au-Prince port has suffered heavy damage and needs to be repaired. The main pier at the northern end of the port was destroyed during the earthquake and the cranes fell into the water. The terminal collapsed. The south pier was further damaged by aftershocks and is now too dangerous to use. The US military are running port operations and are using landing craft of the type that was used in WW2 to deliver supplies to shore. The US military created 3 small artificial beaches in Port-au-Prince’s harbor to begin offloading containers from commercial ships in order to improve the aid flow. The military expects to expand the capacity to 500 containers a day from the prior 200 containers per day. Making the port usable is a huge priority. On Sunday afternoon we saw trucks hauling large equipment, which looked like what would be used in ports in the Croix des Bouquets area. Pray the port can be fixed quickly.
We have had at least 50 aftershocks since the main earthquake. The aftershocks sometimes cause further damage. In our neighborhood one man was killed after having a cement block land on his head. Some houses were further damaged by the aftershocks. We continue to live in our tent refuge camp in the yard. We have some cracks in the house that need fixing and our outside walls need to be replaced on both sides, the back and one of the front walls. Pray for the teams who are planning to come and help out as well as future medical teams.
The earthquake occurred on a section of the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault. The last major rupture of the fault occurred in 1751. This fault was building up strain since that time. Scientists were expecting an earthquake in that region, but no one could predict exactly when and where. In this fault movement was minimal amounting to less than an inch per year but this earthquake may have caused the earth’s surface along the fault line to offset by as much as 3 feet. There are 3 main causes of why this earthquake was so devastating. The earthquake was centered just 10 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince. The quake was shallow (10-15km below the lands’ surface) and the lower depth made it more forceful. Many of the houses and businesses were not built to withstand such a force and collapsed or crumbled. The risk of aftershocks continues and it has also been mentioned by scientists that another earthquake of the same or higher magnitude could hit again. Scientists are studying the fault line to learn more about earthquakes and how the region could be affected in the future. Pray the aftershocks stop and another earthquake doesn’t hit. Port-au-Prince has been damaged too much as it is.
That’s all the news for today. Have a good week!
Karen Bultje, Coram Deo.