Revolutionizing Awareness

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Posts Tagged ‘haiti’

Hurricane adds to Haiti’s woes, 4 dead in floods

Posted by Admin on November 8, 2010

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Hurricane Tomas flooded camps of earthquake refugees, turning some into squalid islands Friday as it battered Haiti’s rural western tip, while largely sparing the vast homeless encampments in the shattered capital.

Aid workers rushed to guard against the spread of disease as the storm moved into the region where thousands are infected with cholera.

Driving 85 mph winds and a lashing storm surge battered Leogane, a seaside town west of Port-au-Prince that was 90 percent destroyed in the Jan. 12 earthquake.

In one refugee camp, dozens of families carried their belongings through thigh-high floodwaters to a taxi stand on higher ground, huddling under blankets and a sign that read “Welcome to Leogane.”

“We got flooded out and we’re just waiting for the storm to pass. There’s nothing we can do,” said Johnny Joseph, a 20-year-old resident.

Four deaths were confirmed by Haitian officials, all people attempting to cross rivers by car or on foot in the mountainous region to the west of Leogane, on Haiti’s far southwestern tip. Two more people were missing in Leogane.

Tomas had earlier killed at least 14 people in the eastern Caribbean. On Friday it came ashore as a Category 1 hurricane, pummeling Haiti’s southern peninsula, before moving on to the rest of the country, eastern Cuba and the Bahamas.

It could be days before the storm’s impact is known as reports filter in from isolated mountain towns cut off by the flooding. But as officials took stock and aid workers rushed to contain flood damage and the widening cholera epidemic, the storm left harsh reminders of poverty’s toll on the Caribbean nation.

“We have two catastrophes that we are managing. The first is the hurricane and the second is cholera,” President Rene Preval told the nation in a television and radio address.

He could have included a third. Ten months after the magnitude-7 earthquake shook the capital to the ground, the devastation can still be seen in scores of collapsed buildings and sprawling refugee camps.

The disasters mingled in Leogane, where milky brown floodwaters filled quake-cracked streets and cut off a camp that was home to hundreds of refugees.

“We have an assessment team there now and there’s a couple towns that have been damaged from some flooding and some wind damage,” said Steve McAndrew, head of operations for the American Red Cross.

The storm’s center was about 140 miles (230 kilometers) northwest of Port-au-Prince, where a thick gray canopy of clouds hung over the capital and a steady downpour turned streets into flowing canals that carried garbage through the city.

Haitian authorities had urged the 1.3 million Haitians left homeless by the earthquake to leave the camps and go to the homes of friends and family. Buses were sent to take those who wanted to evacuate to shelters.

But many chose to stay, fearing they would come back to find that they had been evicted from the private land where they have been camped out since the quake, living in donated plastic tarps, or that their few possessions would be stolen before they returned.

A near-riot broke out amid a poorly coordinated relocation effort at the government’s flagship camp at Corail-Cesselesse when residents began overturning tables and throwing bottles to protest what they saw as a forced removal.

About a third of the camp’s nearly 8,000 residents ultimately went to shelters in a nearby school, church and hospital, American Refugee Committee camp manager Bryant Castro said. But there was no space for many others, who were forced to ride out the storm in the open.

“Yet again there is very poor planning and last minute decision-making that scares people who have already had zero communication about what their future holds,” Oxfam spokeswoman Julie Schindall said.

In Leogane, protesters took to the streets in the pouring rain, beating drums and blasting horns as they lambasted officials for failing to build a canal along a river that has overflowed repeatedly in the past. Flood waters filled people’s homes, swirling around the furniture and framed pictures.

“When it rains the water rises and causes so much damage. We want them to dig a canal to move the water,” said Frantz Hilair, a 28-year-old motorcycle taxi driver. “We have a mayor and the deputy, but they don’t do anything.”

Local authorities put the blame on the federal government.

“They have a reason to be mad. The central government hasn’t done anything here,” Deputy Mayor Wilson St. Juste said.

Farther north in Gonaives, a coastal city twice inundated by recent tropical storms, police evacuated more than 200 inmates from one prison to another.

Poverty has steadily worsened in Haiti over the last century, with an unending spiral of political upheaval, flawed international intervention, frustrated aid attempts and natural disasters. Post-quake reconstruction has barely begun or even been funded; less than 38 percent of the money pledged for rebuilding has been delivered, including a promised $1.15 billion from the United States.

Aid workers are concerned the storm will worsen Haiti’s cholera epidemic, which has killed more than 440 people and hospitalized more than 6,700 others.

Preval called on Haitians to help stop the spread of the disease.

“Water is going to bring the bacteria, and people who are moving around can infect other areas,” he said in his radio broadcast. “Use hygiene, cook the food you are eating, boil the water you are cooking with so we don’t have the epidemic of cholera abscess into something even worse.”

U.S. Marines were standing by on the USS Iwo Jima off the coast with relief supplies.

As the hurricane neared Cuba’s eastern tip, that country’s crack civil defense forces evacuated 800 people from Baracoa, a city that often floods during inclement weather.

Meanwhile, a cold front hammered the western part of the island with heavy rains and a storm surge that flooded some low-lying parts of the capital, Havana, and closed the seaside Malecon thoroughfare.

In the Dominican Republic, to the east of Haiti, floods damaged at least 1,700 homes and forced the evacuation of more than 8,000 people, emergency operations director Juan Manuel Mendez said.

___

Associated Press writers Jacob Kushner in Leogane, Paul Haven in Havana and Pauline Jelinek in Washington contributed to this report.

 

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American Red Cross must explain $175 million in unallocated Haiti donations

Posted by Admin on February 20, 2010

American Red Cross must explain $175 million in unallocated Haiti donations

One month ago, singer Wycef Jean’s “NGO” (for”Non-Governmental Organization) called “Yelle Haiti” raised just over $1 million to help victims of the 7.0 Haiti Earthquake. At the time, scores of non-profit organizations sprang up to announce some kind of effort to assist the quake-damaged country.

But of all of them, Yelle Haiti received the most attention because of alleged past spending patterns, leading to the awful and unfounded accusation that Wycef Jean was using the money for personal use. In this video made one month ago, Wycef Jean answered his critics:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDE8YJac0Wc&feature=player_embedded

Just after The Smoking Gun and The Washington Post blog posts were issued (and with no evidence of having attempted to personally contact Wycef Jean to give him a chance to respond to the accusations) and the rescue efforts ramped up, suddenly the American Red Cross became mentioned in commercial after commercial as the “go-to” nonprofit for donations.

Ok, but where’s the $175 million?

Some newspapers, like The San Francisco Chronicle, included the American Red Cross in a list of recommended organizations to donate to in the effort to help Haiti. The message, and thus the common assumption or “conventional wisdom”, was that the American Red Cross was the “safe” organization to donate to.

It’s not.

According to CNN Money, The American Red Cross had to ask for a $100 million cash infusion after its emergency fund was depleted. Today, reports are that the American Red Cross spent or committed nearly $80 million to “meet the most urgent needs of earthquake survivors.”

But wait. Where did the cost of $80 million come from? Or is it that the American Red Cross received that much in donations and while all of it is committed, only part of it is spent? According to the American Red Cross’ own one month report, it has raised $255 million for the Haitian Relief effort.

That’s as much money as was raised to finance the upgrade construction of the Miami Dolphins’ stadium for Super Bowl XLIV.

But here’s where the reports gets really confusing and disturbing. While $255 million was raised, only $80 million was spent or committed, leaving $175 million in donations that’s neither spent nor committed to Haiti.

Where’s the $175 million the American Red Cross collected? Where’s The Washington Post and The Smoking Gun to look at this?

The complete American Red Cross Haiti one month report does not help because it fails to even mention the $175 million collected but not spent or committed to Haiti.

Why?

The logical mind would think that if the American Red Cross gained $255 million in money that donors believed was going to the Haiti effort, then all of the $255 million should be committed to Haiti, not some of it.

This is a major outrage. But more outrageous is the media’s blind eye to the American Red Cross’ activities. One would think a reporter would not be so lazy that they could avoid subtracting $80 million from $255 million, get $175 million, read the Red Cross’ online documents, and start asking about the unallocated $175 million?

But that’s what’s happened in the case of the only mainstream media organization to look at donation spending progress to date, The Miami Herald. The report in the business sectionmentions the $255 million and the $80 million in one sentence – this one:

For Haiti, the Red Cross has raised more than $250 million and has plans for some $80 million of that so far, said Red Cross spokesman Jonathan Aiken.

But disturbingly, The Miami Herald fails to ask the “What happened to the $175 million in donations” question.

Everyone deserves an answer, especially Wycef Jean and those who’ve ran Yelle Haiti, and who continue to be dogged by a PR attack that seems to have benefitted organizations like the American Red Cross and allowed them to submit sloppy reports of their own.

Indeed, The Miami Herald picked up the “something’s wrong with Yelle Haiti” theme and repeated it in the same story where they give the American Red Cross a blind pass. That is awful and must be explained ASAP.

Stay tuned.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/abraham/detail?blogid=95&entry_id=57227

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