Haitians in New York Struggle to Recover From Sandy

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Audio Transcript:

Lisa Mullins: I'm Lisa Mullins and this is The World. President Obama is in New Jersey today to view the devastation from Hurricane Sandy for himself. The president toured some of the worst hit areas of the state with Gov. Chris Christie. Meanwhile, the death toll from Sandy in the US has risen to more than 60 people. Residents all over New Jersey and the New York City metro area are struggling to cope. Transportation networks remain crippled today and millions of people are still without power in the region. Among those hard hit by Sandy are those in the Haitian community in the US. Many of them live in Queens, Brooklyn and Long Island, NY and throughout New Jersey. Ricot Dupuy has heard from a lot of them. He hosts a program on radio Soleil, that's a Haitian station broadcast from Brooklyn. He says that many Haitians in the area were hesitant to leave their homes, despite calls from authorities.

Ricot Dupuy: My view is that a number of Haitians were not prepared for the storm. They did not heed the advice, at least that's what some of them are telling me. For some reason they felt it was like hype. There's also the view that in can be too bad in the United States. A number of them are telling me that they you know, they have limited food, no electricity, so they did not heed the advice being provided on TV and through other outlets.

Mullins: Why not?

Dupuy: I would assume it's a combination of reasons. The [inaudible 1:28] in the United States, I mean it's here in the US. Things like that are not supposed to happen here. They know what they're doing. These things happen in Haiti, not in Queens, not in Long Island. I think you have that logic somewhere in the back of their mind. And some of these people they don't, they don't speak the language. For these reasons and others I think they were ill-prepared.

Mullins: Is the community on solid ground sufficiently that they can help out those who didn't evacuate and may be in trouble?

Dupuy: At this time I'm not aware of any really effort within the Haitian community itself, but you must understand also, at the same time Haiti itself was seriously, seriously hit. Considering the fragility of structures in Haiti, it doesn't take much to do a lot of devastation in Haiti.

Mullins: Well, actually that's interesting because we're gonna be speaking to somebody who's in Haiti in just a minute or two, but it strikes me that there are a lot of Haitians who are probably in your listening audience, in fact, who send money back home to family in Haiti. Is there any concern that they won't be in a position to do that now?

Dupuy: That is the problem. Whenever things get bad in Haiti, so they depend on Haitians here, but Haitians here, they're affected, so they need all the support they need at this moment. And also, people in Haiti cannot reach a lot of them here because a lot of people here have no electricity and no phone, so the people in Haiti that are trying to reach the Haitians here to sort this out will find it very, very difficult to do so.

Mullins: Ricot, what's it like to look at some of the images around New Jersey, New York that you have seen as a Haitian, and to also have presumably seen images of flooding and devastation from Hurricane Sandy when it first hit parts of Haiti.

Dupuy: It is heartbreaking and I know how tough it is for Haitian families here. A lot of them are struggling. I remember the time in New York when it was easy to find a job, but that's not the condition here right now. Some Haitians just can't afford not to go to work. You have for example, the home health aide. You have a lot of Haitians in that field, they go and provide care to the elderly. If they don't work, they don't get paid. And some of them in fact have been calling me and telling them basically they cannot afford to go to work, and that's what they have to do, they cannot go to work. That's tough.

Mullins: Ricot Dupuy, who is the station manager at Radio Soleil, a Haitian station broadcast from Brooklyn, NY, thank you, good luck.

Dupuy: Thank you very much.