By Onz Chery

A street in Port-au-Prince after Tropical Storm Laura passed through. Photo by Georges H. Rouzier

The death count from Tropical Storm Laura has reached 20 as of Tuesday, including one infant, an 8-year-old boy, eight women and 10 men, according to the Gazette Haiti. Five people, two children and three adults, are also missing.

Protection Civil counted 198 homeless families in the Nippes Department, located in the south. Over in the Artibonite Department, 447 houses were flooded and 15 were completely destroyed. Various roads are also damaged in the south.

Despite that some businesses and schools tried to reopen all around the country even as overwhelmed residents battled thick mud that rendered some areas impassable and caused massive traffic.  

Protection Civil workers found the dead body of the infant who was carried away in the floodwater at Tabarre. They’re still searching for the mother’s body, Dr. Jessica Jeaninton. Her vehicle was stuck in the flood and after she managed to exit it with her nine-month-old son, they were both caught in the stream of the floodwater.

In Anse-à-Pitres, one of the hardest-hit towns in the Southeast, four people died, and one person is missing. The streets and multiple homes are filled with muds, Casseus Nixon, a local agricultural company’s plant manager said.

Nixon, who was one of the storm’s leading helping hands in Anse-à-Pitres, was disheartened to see so many the residents who lost their homes.   

“I’m not in a good state of mind,” Nixon said. “My spirit is tormenting me because I was supposed to help the people repair their homes. I don’t have the means to help them yet, that’s why I’m sad.”

There was a light rain in the Western Department, around towns like Tabarre Monday afternoon. Flooding was still an issue, causing huge traffic jams. Like in other areas, only some businesses and schools opened in the west region.

Elsewhere in the Western Department in Pelerin, the floodwaters had burst through Tet Dlo (Water Head in English), an outdoor supermarket, on Sunday evening. At least seven people died there, according to witness Clotilde Achile. Gazette Haiti didn’t specify if those seven people are included in their death count.

The water also demolished the merchants’ products. Achile, a market vendor, said she lost 1,800 gourdes worth of merchandise, which is equivalent to approximately $160.

“I lost them, I lost them,” a resigned Achile, 59, said. “Some other people lost more merchandises.”

Achile has been selling at Tet Dlo since its opening in 2001. During the previous storms, she said, the supermarket was not this badly impacted.

After Laura, many vendors went to Tet Dlo to clean up and see what they could gather.

Achile said she has to wait for the supermarket to get reconstructed before she can work again. She does not know when that will happen.

Achile was left traumatized after watching seven dead bodies getting pulled out of the water.

“When they were getting the people out of the water, I felt like I was in that situation,” Achile said. “If God didn’t intervene for me, I could’ve died. Yesterday, I wasn’t well at all. I couldn’t even eat.”

Hurricane season usually lasts between June and November. Civil Protection, the government arm tasked with storm warning and recovery efforts, advised the population to keep watching the news but remain calm.

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Onz Chery is a Haiti correspondent for The Haitian Times. Chery started his journalism career as a City College of New York student with The Campus. He later wrote for First Touch, local soccer leagues in New York and Elite Sports New York before joining The Haitian Times in 2019.

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