People around the world gasped with the news that Tropical Storm Isaac would hit Haiti.
But the reality is geographically, Haiti is positioned in a fragile region where climate changes often mean life and death. So it should no be surprise when tropical storms, torrential rains, flooding, mudslides, tornadoes, hurricanes, and even 7.0 magnitude earthquakes hit the small nation.
What should be a surprise is the fragile state of emergency preparedness in the country. When will the report be that Haiti is bracing for natural disaster but officials have evacuated at-risk populations and structural damage is expected to be minimal because of infrastructure improvements as a result of recent reforms to zoning and building requirements?
What is the coordinated, long-term plan to get there?
Haitian officials, international organizations, and Haiti-based NGOs — who often coordinate response efforts to such disasters — unsuccessfully attempted to evacuate tent communities on Friday. But given early weather forecasts for the region, evacuation could have occurred earlier in the week.
While the number of fatalities is now in the teens, it could have been worse because of the infrastructure vulnerabilities and limited capacity. And there is still concern that the flooding may cause cholera to resurface. More than 7,500 lives have already been lost to this epidemic over the last two years.
In Haiti, Jude Piquant said animals, like goats and chickens, were affected and a town in Petit Goave was most impacted. But he notes that he was happy with the response and that recovery efforts are underway.
Others say things are starting to shift. “I am OK except for inconveniences caused by Isaac. Now that the sun is back, the winds are calmer and the rain had stopped,” said a native of Haiti.
For now, the storm has calmed and the weather in Haiti has stabilized until the next natural disaster, which could be soon, since hurricane season in Haiti does not end till November.