Today, there are hundreds of thousands of Haitians living in tent camps around Port-au-Prince. Officials have declared 21 of those camps ï¿½high-risk.' That is, they're likely to flood in the coming rainy season. The Haitian government and international agencies are working to encourage and help displaced Haitians to move back into neighborhoods. But the high-risk camps remain packed. And in bits and spurts, the rains are beginning. The World's Amy Bracken reports from Port-au-Prince.
JEB SHARP: The United Nations is organizing a donor's conference for Haiti tomorrow. The goal is to raise more than 11 billion dollars that U.N. officials say are needed to rebuild the quake stricken nation. Only a small fraction of that has been collected so far. One urgent need is housing. Hundreds of thousands of Haitians are currently living in tent camps around Port au Prince. Officials have declared 21 of those camps high risk. That is they're likely to flood in the coming rainy season. It's already started to rain, as The World's Amy Bracken reports from Port au Prince.
AMY BRACKEN: A sea of tents and tarps rises up a steep slope. This was once a golf course. Now it's a city of more than 54,000 displaced people. I say city because it contains barbershops, cyber cafes, tiny DVD cinemas, food and drink vendors, community centers and a health clinic with dirt paths connecting it all. But on this night, most residents are hunkered down in their tents. It's been raining lightly for about two hours and the paths are turning to soupy mud. Putrid smelling latrines are threatening to overflow. Doley Exelus used to live nearby in the hard hit Delmas neighborhood. After the earthquake he moved to this camp.
INTERPRETER: When it rains, lots of bad things happen in this camp. When NGO's come in to build shelters not everyone gets good, rainproof materials. Some still only have sheets.
BRACKEN: Officials have designated this camp a priority site. The priority is people evacuate before the rainy season really hits. The Haitian government and international agencies are trying to make this happen. They're urging people to go back to their homes or set up shelter on their land. Forty U.S. Navy engineers have been inspecting homes still standing in the neighborhood of Turgeau. Those deemed safe are marked with green paint. Those in need of repairs, yellow. Those bound for demolition, red. For buildings already destroyed, more than 100 Haitian laborers move the rubble onto the streets. The Dominican construction workers take the debris to a dumping ground outside the city. But it takes days to get through a handful of homes, out of more than 100,000. And it will become even harder when work begins on congested hillside slums like Bel Air. That's where Chantal Turenne used to live with her husband and two children. She takes me down a narrow alley way to their two room house. The place is still standing, but thick cracks snake across the cinderblock walls. Walls that bear the weight of a two-story apartment overhead. Inside her bed is strewn with chunks of cement.
INTERPRETER: I never come back here because I'm afraid to go inside my house. That's where I was when the earthquake happened. I have to take shelter on the streets with my children.
BRACKEN: Turenne has set up a tent in another high risk camp, Champs de Mars. Here, 36,000 residents live on level concrete, but when it rains water rushes between and through the shelters carrying trash and bits of crushed buildings. This morning Frenel Compas is visiting some of his former Bel Air neighbors. After the earthquake he fled north of the city where he sleeps in his car. But he spends his days in the camp with friends. Compas is angered by what he sees as efforts to move people back to their homes prematurely.
INTERPRETER: The international community shouldn't tell people your house is good, you can move back in without acknowledging the possible consequences. They say the house is safe, does that mean it will withstand another earthquake? I resolve never to sleep under cement again, until my house is rebuilt securely.
BRACKEN: Meanwhile the pressure is on to move people to safety somehow in the next few weeks. The full brunt of the rainy season is expected to hit in April or early May. Bertrand Martin is with the International Organization for Migration.
BERTRAND MARTIN: This would be a life and death situation at this point. Like in a case of a bad scenario where there is a really heavy, heavy rain, those people would be more at risk. One of those options would go to a new site.
BRACKEN: For those who can't go home, new camps with sturdier shelters are being built on higher ground. But officials say negotiations to procure safe sites are moving slowly. And only two new camps have been completed. Meanwhile the government public service announcement aired frequently on the radio seeks to allay camp dwellers fears. It says in the coming rainy season we want to guarantee that everyone will have protection. The goal of the Haitian government is to ensure that all families have the material they need to build temporary homes starting in early May. But for now, on rainy nights, camp residents can only sit in their tents and wait. For The World, I'm Amy Bracken, Port au Prince, Haiti.