Haiti Following Tropical Storm Isaac

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Marco Werman: I'm Marco Werman, this is The World. Tropical storm Isaac gained some strength as it churned over the Gulf of Mexico today. It's expected to touch down late tomorrow somewhere between Louisiana and the Floriday panhandle as a category 2 hurricane. The governors of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama have all declared states of emergency. Today, the storms outer bands drenched Tampa, FL, where the Republican National Convention is on hold for one day. We'll go to that rather damp convention later in the show to talk about the GOP's immigration platform. First though, we turn to Haiti which was hit by tropical storm Isaac over the weekend. The World's Amy Bracken is in Port au Prince. Amy, how did Haiti fair with Isaac? I'm thinking in particular the hundreds of thousands of Haitians who are still living in tent camps after losing their homes in that devastating 2010 earthquake.

Amy Bracken: Well, it's a mixed report so far. There were expectations that it would really hit the south badly and not so much the rest of the country. But it's been surprising how much it has affected most of the country. It didn't hit Port au Prince as badly as some other places, but Port au Prince is where you have an enormous homeless population. There's some 400,000 people still homeless from the earthquake, so of course they were pretty severely affected by the storm.

Werman: I mean what is it like those camps when heavy rains like Isaac start to fall?

Bracken: There's some places that I visited on the outskirts of Port au Prince where during the night of the storm there were tents that were blown down. There were tents that were flooded, but what people were really concerned about in one camp was the fact that a child had died over night. It wasn't actually due to the storm itself, but there was a baby who was sick and there was no humanitarian groups or emergency groups that were able to get in to rescue the child. The gate was locked and nobody was able to find the key to get out or to get the emergency people in. This was part of this ongoing dispute between the residents of the camp and the land owner. There are a number of cases where people are living on private land and the land owner just is tired of them living there and is trying to push them off, so this is the way that things are being dealt with in some areas. I mean I think there are a lot of aid agencies that are out working very hard at trying to help people, but of all the camps that I visited I haven't seen any evidence of basic services being provided.

Werman: Well given how shaky the infrastructure is, I was gonna ask you know, a government official said today that the death toll just from tropical storm Isaac is 19 people dead. Obviously, 19 too many, but were people there surprised the toll wasn't a lot higher?

Bracken: Yes, I mean certainly in Haiti it could've been much, much worse. And there was a lot more communication from the government this time around than there has been in the past. People were ordered to stay home and so that might have reduced the number. Of course, it's still early and there probably are people, or maybe people that haven't been counted. I mean I went to a Doctors Without Borders emergency room and they said no, we haven't seen an increase of people coming in, but of course, there are no buses or taxis out. So, and there aren't a lot of emergency vehicles. So if people were in trouble, chances are they wouldn't be coming in.

Werman: Haitians in Port au Prince are clearly angry, as you say, that government services aren't functioning, what is their mood right now dealing with yet another blow from Mother Nature?

Bracken: I noticed when I came back to Port au Prince a few weeks ago that people just seem really fed up with their living situation to start with. And to have something like this, it's not so much the storm as the fact that they're just not getting help, I meant it's just extraordinary that more than 2-1/2 years after the earthquake and people just can't understand why real decent housing hasn't been setup for people.

Werman: The World's Amy Bracken speaking with us from Port au Prince, Haiti where the rain has stopped and people are starting to pick up the pieces after tropical storm Isaac. Amy, thank you and take care.

Bracken: Thank you, Marco.