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Rainy season threatens earthquake-battered Haiti

With many displaced people still living in tent camps, floodwaters could wash away what the temblor didn't destroy.

April 18, 2010|By Joe Mozingo

Officials, who say they will begin moving people out of danger in the canyon this weekend, give many reasons why the effort to relocate people is only starting. They cite the immensity of the task, and the difficulties of coordinating among hundreds of aid groups and a government that lost nearly all of its institutions.

"It's like starting from minus zero," said George Ola-Davies, a spokesman for the U.N. peacekeeping mission.

Relocation is also difficult culturally. Haitians rely on their communities to survive. They borrow money from neighbors, share food, watch one another's children, sell things they pick up in the central markets.

The camp where residents of the Petionville Club are being moved is on a dust-blown, desolate slope far from the city, where people will be wholly reliant on aid.

Brizard Brigarde, 59, plans to hold out on the golf course. His family of six lives with four other families in a cluster of sweltering rooms made of orange tarps that cast an almost hellish glow.

He cradles his fussy baby girl, Taicha, who was just 2 weeks old when the earthquake hit and their house came down on top of her. Somehow she fell into a crevice and was pulled out with a smile.

Brigarde is a tailor. He started building his home in 1973, and by the day of the earthquake it had three stories, a television, running water, a dining room set -- all the accouterments of the middle class.

Now, he has what fits in a tent. The baby falls asleep in his arms, and he lays her down on a pillow in a laundry bucket.

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