Haitians lend a hand while waiting for aid

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND WORLD - By Ben Fox and David McFad­den

LES CAYES, Haiti — Peo­ple through­out Haiti’s dev­as­tated south­west penin­sula formed makeshift bri­gades Tues­day to clear de­bris and try to re­gain some sem­blance of their pre-hur­ri­cane lives as anger grew over the de­lay in aid for re­mote com­mu­ni­ties more than a week after the Cat­e­gory 4 storm hit.

A com­mu­nity group that formed in the south­ern sea­side com­mu­nity of Les Anglais be­gan clear­ing tree limbs from streets and plac­ing them into piles while oth­ers gath­ered scraps of wood to start re­build­ing homes de­stroyed by Hur­ri­cane Matthew.

Car­pen­ter James Nas­sau donned a white con­struc­tion hel­met as he re­built a neigh­bor’s wall with re­cy­cled wood, hop­ing to earn a lit­tle money to take care of 10 chil­dren, in­clud­ing those left be­hind by his brother, who died in the storm.

“My brother left five kids, and now I’ve got to take care of them,” he said. “No­body has come to help.”

The scene re­peated it­self across small sea­side and moun­tain vil­lages dot­ting the penin­sula, where peo­ple pointed out he­li­copters buzzing over­head and ques­tioned why they haven’t re­ceived any help.

Is­rael Banissa, a car­pen­ter who lives near the small moun­tain town of Moron, said a Red Cross as­sess­ment team stopped out­side his vil­lage to ask peo­ple ques­tions but didn’t leave any sup­plies.

“There’s no aid that’s come here,” he said as he sawed wood to help re­build his home and dozens of oth­ers. “I don’t think they care about the peo­ple up here.”

The U.N. hu­man­i­tar­ian agency in Geneva has made an emer­gency ap­peal for nearly $120 mil­lion in aid, say­ing about 750,000 peo­ple in south­west Haiti will need “life-sav­ing as­sis­tance and pro­tec­tion” in the next three months.

U.N. of­fi­cials said ear­lier that at least 1.4 mil­lion peo­ple across the re­gion need as­sis­tance and that 2.1 mil­lion over­all have been af­fected by the hur­ri­cane. Some 175,500 peo­ple re­main in shel­ters.

The Na­tional Civil Pro­tec­tion head­quar­ters in Port-au-Prince raised the of­fi­cial na­tion­wide death toll to 473, which in­cluded at least 244 deaths in Grand-Anse. But lo­cal of­fi­cials have said the toll in Grand-Anse alone tops 500.

Elan­cie Moise, an agron­o­mist and di­rec­tor for the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture in south­ern Haiti, said 80 per­cent to 100 per­cent of crops have been lost across the south­ern penin­sula.

“Cri­sis is not the word to de­scribe it,” he said. “You need a stronger word. It is much worse. There is no food for peo­ple to eat.”

Food was slowly reach­ing re­mote com­mu­ni­ties, but there was also a grow­ing need for med­i­cal sup­plies.

In the western sea­side vil­lage of Dame Marie, 300 pa­tients with fes­ter­ing wounds lay silently on beds at the main hos­pi­tal waiting for medicine a week after the storm hit.

“There’s no wa­ter, no an­tibi­otics,” Dr. Herby Jean said. “Ev­ery­thing is de­pleted.”

Con­cern also was grow­ing about an in­crease in cases of cholera, which has al­ready killed roughly 10,000 peo­ple and sick­ened over 800,000 since 2010.

HEC­TOR RETAMAL/GETTY-AFP

Sur­vivors make do with what they can sal­vage in Les Cayes, a hard-hit area of Haiti.

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