Within the city center the buildings are either completely crumbled, partially standing or some intact but leaning to the side. People are still working and mingling among these structures. There are no fenced off areas to keep people away from unstable structures and no construction equipment. There are growing piles of rubble on the sides of the street often blocking one lane. Haitians were told to pile their rubble along the street and that crews would come pick it up. It is an excruciatingly slow process and happening by hand. The scene in downtown Port au Prince looks like something from a movie, it is truly unbelievable. Among the rubble there are people everywhere. They are selling their goods on the side of the road, pushing and pulling carts by hand, women carrying huge loads on their heads, and children playing. What fragile infrastructure that was in place in Port au Prince prior to the earthquake has been torn apart after. Many of the government and school buildings including the college were destroyed. This also means that many of the leaders, educated professionals, and university students were killed in the earthquake.
Of course most obvious also are the huge tent villages all over the city. We are on the second floor at our hotel and from our balcony we can see a hillside of destroyed homes and an adjacent large tent city. The noise and music from the tent city goes on all night. There are children and entire families living in these makeshift homes. I really can’t imagine how anyone gets any sleep. And now there is the rain, both days it has started in the afternoon and rains pretty heavily for a short time. I can’t imagine how these little tents sitting so close together on the dirt are going to withstand the rainy season. I worry about the most vulnerable people; the children, the elderly, the disabled, how will they survive the conditions and the disease that may result? Maybe moving large groups of people out of the city is the solution, but then the adults need a place to work, the children need a place to go to school, and there needs to be accessible medical care and transportation. It is going to take a lot of work, a lot of planning, a lot of resources and some intervention from above to get this country repaired.
* All pictures copyrighted (2010)