[News] Gustav's Path of Destruction From Haiti to Louisiana

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Sep 5 10:54:59 EDT 2008


September 5, 2008

 From Haiti to Louisiana

Gustav's Path of Destruction


Hurricane Gustav killed 18 people in Louisiana 
and displaced 1.9 million.  Over 800,000 homes 
are without electricity, nearly half the state, 
and some will not see power for up to a month.

In Haiti, Gustav killed 77 with another 8 missing 
and damaged nearly 15,000 homes.  Tropical storm 
Hanna, which closely followed Gustav, killed at 
least another 60 people.  Tens of thousands of 
people have sought safety on rooftops and 
temporary shelters.  Rotting cows drift in the flood waters.

Louisiana is the poorest state in the U.S., home 
to nearly 4 million people, with per capita 
income of around $16,000 per year.  Haiti is the 
poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, home 
to nearly 9 million people, with a per capita 
income of less than $400 per year.

In Louisiana, gas and water are scarce.  On 
Thursday September 4, 2008, authorities reported 
a 3 mile line of people waiting for food and 
water outside of New Orleans.  The evacuation of 
1.9 million people in Louisiana went relatively 
smoothly.  The return has been much more difficult.

Reports from community organizations in Haiti say 
people have not eaten since Monday.  Melinda 
Miles from Konpay reported: “Twenty four hours of 
rain drenching the huts of the poor, perched on 
the cliffs, and drowning the slums, huddled on 
the edge of the sea. Homes were washed away by 
overflowing rivers, and others had flash floods 
tear through their walls. Fields of plantain 
trees are now stagnant puddles – breeding ground 
for mosquitoes – and agricultural fields were 
destroyed throughout the region. Almond trees 
floated into the sea and coconut trees were uprooted.”

Tens of thousands of people in Louisiana remain 
displaced.  A thousand people in one shelter 
reported there were no bathing facilities at 
all.  People washed up in a bucket.  Another 
shelter reported 30 people arrested outside a 
nearby convenience store.  Buses will start bringing people back on Friday.

Haiti was in deep trouble before being hit by a 
series of storms.  Hunger is widespread.  Sky 
high food prices sparked riots and turmoil as 
people could not afford to purchase enough food.

Louisiana had not yet recovered from Hurricane 
Katrina, three years ago.  New Orleans still has 
over 65,000 vacant and abandoned homes and over 
100,000 fewer people since Katrina.  Many of the 
elderly, disabled and African-American working poor remain displaced.

"There is no food, no water, no clothes," the 
pastor of a church in Gonaives, Arnaud Dumas told 
the Associated Press.  "I want to know what I'm 
supposed to do. ... We haven't found anything to 
eat in two, three days.  Nothing at all."

Critics question why prisoners in New Orleans 
were returned by public transportation days 
before tens of thousands of citizens had the same opportunity.

President Rene Preval of Haiti told Reuters, “We 
are in a really catastrophic situation.  There 
are a lot of people on rooftops and there are 
prisoners we cannot guard.”   In Gonaives, a city 
of 160,000, half the homes remain flooded, 
according to UN troops.  People begged for food 
and water outside the UN troop base.

"All and all, the response has been excellent," 
U.S. President Bush told the nation.  The U.S. 
Embassy in Haiti announced it was releasing 
$100,000 in emergency aid to Haiti.

In Haiti, the situation is critical.  “If they 
don’t have food, it can be dangerous,” Haitian 
Senator Youri Latortue told the AP.  “They can’t wait.”

“We expect a surge of evictions and power 
cutoffs,” said Brother Don Everard of Hope House, 
a social service agency in New Orleans.  “People 
were having trouble making rent and utilities 
before evacuating for Gustav, now it will be 
worse because they have spent all their money to evacuate.”

Haiti is 1300 miles away from New Orleans.  Other 
hurricanes are now approaching the Caribbean.

Bill Quigley is a human rights lawyer and law 
professor at Loyola University New Orleans.  Bill 
has visited Haiti nearly 20 times in his human 
rights work.  People who would like to make a 
financial contribution to the emergency needs of 
poor people in Louisiana and Haiti can send a 
check to Hope House, 916 St. Andrew, c/o Brother 
Don Everard, Haiti-Louisiana Emergency Fund, 916 
St. Andrew St.  New Orleans, LA 70118.  Any funds 
received will be given directly to poor people, 
half to those in Haiti and half to those in 
Louisiana. Contributions to Hope House are tax 
deductible under 501c3 of the tax code.  Contact 
Bill directly at <mailto:quigley77 at gmail.com>quigley77 at gmail.com

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