Hurricanes and Haiti
Its governments, both the dictatorships and the democracies, have done almost nothing to stop deforestation or to protect Haitians from the next big storm.
By Amy Wilentz
September 13, 2008
The expression “sheets of rain” meant nothing to me until I lived in Haiti. I used to sit on a terrace on a low hillside in Port-au-Prince and watch the progress of rainstorms as they descended on the capital. The city sat below me, palms waving in the ominous, wet breeze, tin roofs glinting in a slanting sun, jitneys honking through the traffic, roosters crowing at the wrong time of day. Above us, there would be a quick massing of clouds. Then, suddenly, the rain would come pounding down and the city would disappear, as if a shade had been lowered at the edge of the terrace. Sometimes it would rain like that for hours, and when the storm lifted and moved on, there was a rushing river where my street had been. Cars had washed to the bottom of the hill. Bodies floated out of shallow graves in the National Cemetery. Whole communities in the hillside slum near my house would be wrecked.
Human poverty is hugely susceptible to nature’s depredations, and Haiti, one of the world’s poorest countries, has again and again been the victim of demonically destructive wind, rain and flood.
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