As I waited the storm out in my apartment last night, watching the latest news reports on the television and the rain and wind hit my window, I couldn’t help think about the differences between here and the where we work in Haiti. For the thousands of island residents we support, there is no National Guard that will respond, no media that will cover their ongoing nightmare, and no emergency services to call upon. We have electricity that has gone out, subway systems that are down, basements that have flooded. Five days have past since the storm left Haiti and our friends do not have access to clean drinking water or even water to bathe with.
Since the rain stopped this past weekend the community has been working feverishly to clean up as much as they can and put together a thorough assessment of the damage. At this point we know that the piping that carries water from the source to the collection tank has been permanently damaged. Rocks carried by heavy rains down the mountain and boulders that fell during mudslides have smashed the pipes and separated them from each other. The facility will not be up and running again until the damaged pipes have been removed and new pipes have been installed. Luckily the rest of the system is intact.
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The scariest reality Stevenson, the President of the community association we work with in Gran Sous, has shared with me, is that residents who were unable to collect rainwater in plastic containers during the storm are currently collecting water from a large pool that has formed on the ground a few hundred feet behind the spring area. This is very dangerous given the prevalence of water-borne illnesses in the area, especially cholera. In fact, a husband and wife in Gran Sous were just sent away to the hospital with cholera. Stevenson believes that the wife became infected after visiting family in Port-au-Prince, and that the husband became ill upon the wife’s return. With the community’s current water situation, it could take only one infected person to spark a serious outbreak.
Stevenson and the rest of the community volunteers (members of APDAG) have been trying to figure out any alternatives that may exist for residents to access safe drinking water immediately. They visited a neighboring water facility, actually our most recent water project, in the community of Nan Plim to see if the system could temporarily serve area residents. They found the facility undamaged by the hurricane, but that the path to the facility had been blocked by falling earth from a mudslide. APDAG is meeting this afternoon to discuss their options and come up with an action plan.
I have been in touch with several groups on the ground in Haiti that may be able to provide us with some technical assistance to help us repair the Gran Sous facility but we must continue raising funds to cover these costs. We are hoping to get in touch with a charitable group that might be able to provide us with an emergency grant or a matching grant for donations that come in over the next few weeks for hurricane relief. Please let us know if you have any connections to an organization or foundation that could help us in this way. And, please continue sharing our updates with friends, family, and colleagues via Facebook and Twitter. You, and they, can help us address this issue immediately by making a donation on our Causes page: Roots of Development Hurricane Response Page
Thank you very much,
Chad W. Bissonnette