LEOGANE, Haiti – Hurricane Tomas flooded the earthquake-shattered remains of a Haitian town on Friday, forcing families who had already lost their homes in one disaster to flee another. In the country’s capital, quake refugees resisted calls to abandon flimsy tarp and tent camps.
Driving winds and storm surge battered Leogane, a seaside town west of Port-au-Prince that was near the epicenter of the Jan. 12 earthquake and was 90 percent destroyed. Dozens of families in one earthquake-refuge camp carried their belongings through thigh-high water to a taxi post on high ground, waiting out the rest of the storm under blankets and a sign that read “Welcome to Leogane.”
“We got flooded out and we’re just waiting for the storm to pass. There’s nothing we can do,” said Johnny Joseph, a 20-year-old resident.
The growing hurricane with 75 mph (120 kph) winds battered the western tip of Haiti’s southern peninsula and the cities of Jeremie and Les Cayes.
At least three people died trying to cross swollen rivers, Haiti civil protection officials said. The hurricane had earlier killed at least 14 people in the eastern Caribbean.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Nine days into a cholera epidemic that has killed at least 303 and infected more than 4,700, Haitians are holding their breath and waiting to see if the outbreak can be stopped.
Haiti’s humanitarian relief organizations are posed to call their response to the outbreak a success, pointing to the quick mobilization of doctors to affected areas and sufficient stockpiles of IV bags. So far the disease hasn’t spread through Haiti’s tent camps where 1.3 million people still live, and the organizations are hopeful they’ll soon be able to contain the outbreak.
But critics say Haiti’s gruesome brush with cholera represents a failure by these groups whose job is to prevent exactly this type of disaster in the first place.
By Jacob Kushner
The Associated Press
PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI—A spreading cholera outbreak in rural Haiti threatened to outpace aid groups as they stepped up efforts Saturday hoping to keep the disease from reaching the squalid camps of earthquake survivors in Port-au-Prince.
Health officials said at least 208 people had died and 2,394 others were infected in an outbreak mostly centred in the Artibonite region north of the capital.
But the number of cases in towns near Port-au-Prince were rising, and officials worried the next target will be hundreds of thousands of Haitians left homeless by January’s devastating quake and now living in camps across the capital.
By JACOB KUSHNER
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
ST. MARC, HAITI — A cholera epidemic was spreading in central Haiti on Friday as aid groups rushed doctors and supplies to fight the country’s deadliest health crisis since January’s earthquake. At least 150 people have died and more than 1,500 others are ill.
The first two cases of the disease outside the rural Artibonite region were confirmed in Arcahaie, a town that is closer to the quake-devastated capital, Port-au-Prince.
Officials are concerned the outbreak could reach the squalid tarp camps where hundreds of thousands of quake survivors live in the capital.
“It will be very, very dangerous,” said Claude Surena, president of the Haitian Medical Association. “Port-au-Prince already has more than 2.4 million people, and the way they are living is dangerous enough already.”
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) – Haiti on Thursday launched two new mango processing factories that will help farmers export more of the juicy tropical fruit that is a $10 million-a-year business in the impoverished country.
Located in two rural towns in the mango-rich northwest, the plants aim to improve packaging and cleaning to decrease the number of mangoes bruised by poor handling and transport on rutted, sun-baked roads.
The two processing plants will employ 62 people to train mango farmers about cleaning and packaging and to better document the origin of their crops to meet standards in the United States, where most Haitian mangoes are sold.
Haiti grows dozens of different varieties that are indigenous to the country. The only type exported to the U.S. is the “Madame Francis,” which is juicy, sweet and a bit fibrous.
Last year, Haiti exported $10 million worth of mangoes, accounting for one-third of the country’s total agricultural export revenue, according to the U.S. Embassy.
With more processing plants, fruit industry leaders think they have the potential to blossom into a $90 million-a-year export business.
The new mango processing centers will increase profits for 9,500 farmers by as much as 20 percent, predicts CHF International, the U.S.-financed group that organized the project. -Jacob Kushner
By JACOB KUSHNER
The Associated Press
ST. MARC, Haiti — An outbreak of severe diarrhea in rural central Haiti has killed at least 54 people and sickened hundreds more who overwhelmed a crowded hospital Thursday seeking treatment.
Hundreds of patients lay on blankets in a parking lot outside St. Nicholas hospital in the port city of St. Marc with IVs in their arms for rehydration. As rain began to fall in the afternoon, nurses rushed to carry them inside.
Fair and inclusive elections may prove impossible in Haiti this year. In the run-up to the Nov. 28 presidential vote, post-quake logistics are presenting huge challenges: some 230,000 dead have to be purged from voter rolls and 1.3 million displaced have to be reregistered—and the constitutional deadline for that has already passed.
But an even greater problem may be Haiti’s electoral commission itself. It has sidelined 15 candidates without explanation and has excluded the Lavalas Party, which stands in opposition to the current president, René Préval. International investors and donors are worried that a tainted election will further impede the country’s already hobbling reconstruction efforts. Experts say rebuilding Haiti will necessarily infringe on individuals’ property rights—and the less trust Haitians have in their government, the quicker they’re likely to fight back. In the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, lesser issues have stirred unrest
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