Haiti’s residents afraid another earthquake may hit

Ten years later, since a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti, residents aren’t still ready to talk about the event because it nerve-wrecked them. The natural disaster left 1.5 million people homeless, claimed 316.000 lives, and injured over 1.5 million. The earthquake had such an extensive outcome because the country wasn’t prepared for this type of natural disaster. During the last 10 years, Haitian authorities tried to come up with a plan that grows their chances to face a natural disaster. But, the quake monitors don’t supervise the earthquake equipment overnight because the building that houses them isn’t earthquake resistant and the authorities don’t afford to pay them for night shifts. 

If the ground starts shaking one day, all they can do is run out of the building through its only door. So, you can understand why Haiti’s residents are afraid another natural disaster would be worse than the one from 2010. And even if for the seismologists it’s scary to watch for earthquakes in a building that wouldn’t stand one, they need to work no matter the conditions because their team is the only one that can offer information. 

Before 2010, there were no experts in Haiti to know what to do if a seism larger than 4 magnitude hits. So, they had to consult the global US Geological Survey when the natural disaster emerged. In 2011, the country set up the first network that receives satellite information from seismic stations located around the state and seismometers that deliver them real-time data. This helps them predict a quake occurrence and help the nation get ready for one. 

But it doesn’t mean people find it less scary. 

Haiti still struggles to recover after the natural disaster

Some would think 10 years later, Haiti forgot about the earthquake, but with so many deaths and extensive casualties, it’s impossible to get over it. And we should also mention that the state is vulnerable to another earthquakes, due to its geographical location. In the past, the military managed the country, and they had an effective natural disaster management plan. But when the president Jean Bertrand Aristide dismantled the military regime, he didn’t transfer the skills to the civilian public institutions, so they had no idea how to handle the entire disaster. In time the information disappeared and the several government bodies that managed the state failed to come up with better plans. 

Cities that were destined to thousands of people are presently housing millions, so the danger is real if a natural disaster hits again. At the present, Haiti is struggling with decentralisation of the rural environment. People are starting an exodus to urban areas. When another earthquake comes, the number of victims will be higher than in 2010, except if the government doesn’t come with solutions.

The capital and the surrounding areas are overpopulated, and the authorities didn’t put together policies that establish construction standards. In this scenario, another earthquake would have more disastrous consequences than the one from 2010 because now there are more people living in danger-prone areas. 

Even if during the last 10 years the country received billions of dollars to restore the damages, debris still lays on the streets and people are living in refugee camps because they have no homes. The state failed to build houses and help them recover their lives. The greatest challenge Haiti must face now is the lack of policies that meet specific construction regulations that ensure public safety. The event triggered disabilities in people and many of them are too poor to afford treatment so they struggle with pain and poverty daily. Therapists recommend people dealing with grief, PTSD or anxiety to try organic hemp buds because they can improve their state. CBD products have properties that relieve anxiety and depression symptoms, and alleviate pain so earthquake survivors can use them to improve their condition. There’s nothing worse than having to worry daily that another natural event may come and kill someone you love or destroy your house.  

What challenges do people from Haiti face now?

Haitians experienced many challenges, even before the earthquake destroyed their lives. They had weak political governance, limited access to necessary resources and poor infrastructure. After the disaster, other problems added to the existing ones and made it one of the least developed countries that offer residents social, political, and environmental insecurity. Earthquakes aren’t the only natural events that threaten Haitians; hurricanes also hit the coast annually and leave families without a home. 

Haiti is the only low-income state in the Americas and one of the poorest nations worldwide, and this reflects into people’s lifestyles. Two-third of people depend on agriculture to live, and most of them grow crops like cowpeas and bananas that hardly depend on the climatic conditions. Every slight environmental shock can stress and destroy their crops. Earthquakes can destroy fertile areas, and hurricanes can flood crops. Soil erosion, lack of irrigation, and deforested mountain slopes are also preventing people from taking maximum advantage of their crops. 

Now, 60% of Haitians live below the poverty line; they have no food, no house, and no job. Half of the residents are undernourished and 100,000 children under 5 experience critical malnutrition. 

The progress is too slow

Haiti residents are worried that the country isn’t ready for an event similar to the one from 2010. Every year, hurricanes and tropical storms hit them, so there is small room for progress. The country is on four major fault lines and sits on two tectonic plates. Because the plates move regularly, the possibility for another earthquake to emerge is high. Since 2010, progress was made with the creation of the seismic surveillance network, tsunami evacuation routes, and active-fault and hazard maps. Specialists had also evaluated the various types of soil the country features and identified the most at-risk areas. But, Haiti still doesn’t have a national disaster risk management plan or a strategy to reduce seismic vulnerabilities. The authorities don’t teach children in school how to protect themselves from a seismic event especially from a high magnitude one. 

So do people have any reason to worry that another earthquake would be more destructive than the one from 2010? Data shows that they have. 

May. 18, 2020

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