[News] Gustav's Path of Destruction From Haiti to Louisiana
news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Sep 5 10:54:59 EDT 2008
September 5, 2008
From Haiti to Louisiana
Gustav's Path of Destruction
By BILL QUIGLEY
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
dont have food, it can be dangerous, Haitian
Senator Youri Latortue told the AP. They cant 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
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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