Science, Tech & Environment

Hard-hit Haiti after four major storms

PF says he was unprepared for the kind of devastation he saw in Haiti: to go into a city several days after the disaster and see everyone still on their roofs waiting for assistance was particularly painful. To see that kind of collective pain and know we need to move more quickly, it's very difficult. (When a place like Haiti which is so impoverished�why is it surprising that response would be slow?) it's not surprising to me that Haiti can be hit by the same storm as, say, Cuba and have a much higher body count. What is surprising is there were so many relief organizations here to help. And even after days without food and water for some of these towns, they still feel abandoned and without help. (You called this an unnatural disaster. Explain that.) All the vulnerability to the bad effects of bad weather are socially created: deforestation and policies that undermine the ability to respond quickly and effectively. Some of these problems are outside the hands of the Haitians. (Is the aid the U.S. sent not enough or too late?) Both, it's not enough, but we can do more and it's not enough to provide food, water, shelter and medical supplies to a million displaced people. (What would you say to the international community?) I would say let's make this a more ambitious relief effort. Let's not turn away a helicopter because there's not an adequate landing area, for example. The short and medium term will be about rebuilding infrastructure, thinking about housing assistance and starting to plant trees. But we need alternative fuel supplies so people don't cut down the trees, so there needs to be an ambitious medium and long term strategy. We also need to support democracy in Haiti.

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