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Haiti is at risk of tropical storms, any year.
It is Russian Roulette, with an endless supply of bullets. Mostof them will pass thru the
Caribbean missing Haiti, but if one is going to visit Haiti, there is not a heck of a lot of
advance warning, at best a few days.
Since the 2010 January earthquake, over 1 million Haitians have been residing in tent
cities and wooden shack villages, without adequate access to severe weather shelters
(SWS). The island nation is overdue for the statistical probability that a devastating
hurricane will sweep over those unprotected people.
Due to El Nino and La Nina and other weather patterns over a longer time period (global
warming), some years have greater risk of frequency and intensity of these storms. Thus, the
more bullets thru the Caribbean, the greater the risk some will hit Haiti.
Here’s statistics on natural and man made disasters in Haiti history, with significant death
tolls, to help people see the capricious nature of the absence of good patterns of risk to help
mitigate them in the future.
29 Weather and natural phenomena Science risks to Haiti
It has only been in recent years that science has captured information about storm surge and
tsunamis. Historically they killed off any witnesses, so no one was the wiser about that
threat. How far back in history patterns are studied, and how well overall science is
understood, alters perceptions of risk.55
1492- Christopher Columbus discovered the island, and its previous nativeArawak Taino
Amerindianpopulation, which was virtually annihilated by Spanish settlers within 25 years.
Their precise death toll never recorded.
In the early years of European colonists in the new world, the death toll to slaves was
excluded from statistics of how many people got killed by natural disasters.
There was a God awful war of Independence at conclusion ofwhich France imposed an
astronomical ransom. The war was over slavery, which was illegal in France when the war
began, but apparently what is at home in a nation is different in its colonies.
1842 May– Earthquake, in the north, demolishes Cap-Haitian. 10,000 dead.
1915– US invades Haiti, maintains direct control until 1947. Once again Haitians become
slaves, even though slavery had been long illegal back home in USA.
1935 October- A tropical storm kills 2,000 plus in Jeremie.
1937- 17,000 to 35,000 Haitians living in Dominican Republic, near Haitian border, are
massacred by Dominican military.
1946– Haiti has 8.1 magnitude earthquake, caused Tsunami which killed 1,790 people.
1954 October- Hurricane Hazel kills an estimated 1,000 Haitians, and severely damages
The Doc family comes to power. The toll under their rule is only now coming to light.
1963 October- Hurricane Flora does a lot of damage.
1964 September– Hurricane Cleo damages Grande Anse.
1966 September– Hurricane Inesdamages Sud and Quest.
1979 August– Hurricane David hits Nord-Quest.
1980 August– Hurricane Allen hits South Coast.
30 Weather and natural phenomena Science risks to Haiti
1987– Constitution of 1987 is enacted, written in both French and Haitian Creole. Large
land-owners massacre hundreds of peasants for demanding land. Here is 1987Haiti
constitution translated into English.
Confusing Aristide history.
1998 August– Hurricane Georges hits Quest-Center.
2004 May- Severe floods in south, and in parts of neighboring Dominican Republic, leave
more than 2,000 dead or disappeared.
2004 June- UN peacekeepers take over security duties from US-led force and help flood
2004 July- International donors pledge more than $1bn in aid.
2004 September- Nearly 3,000 killed in flooding in the north, in the wake of tropical storm
Jeanne.The combined natural disasters killed 5,000 people, impacted 300,000 Haitians, and
destroyed 7% of Haiti GDP.56
Late 2004- Rising levels of deadly political and gang violence in the capital.
Did weather scientists see trouble coming? No, 2005 was a neutral season (Dennis, Wilma
(TS Alpha merged with Wilma after hitting Haiti).
2005 July- Hurricane Dennis kills at least 45 people.
2007- Hurricanes Dean and Noel killed 330 Haitians, affected 194,000 people, and
destroyed 2% of GDP.57
Did weather scientists see next trouble coming? No, 2008 was a neutral season (Fay,
Hannah, Ike, Gustav).
2008 May- US and World Bank announce extra food aid totaling 30m dollars.In response
to plea from President Preval for more police to help combat wave of kidnappings-for-
ransom, Brazil agrees to boost its peacekeeping force.
2008 August/September– Within one month, nearly 800 people are killed and hundreds are
left injured as Haiti is hit by a series of devastating storms and hurricanes. Haiti is hit by
ALNAPContext Analysis, from GoH Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) 2010Reconstruction
57 ALNAPContext Analysis..
31 Weather and natural phenomena Science risks to Haiti
Tropical Storm Fay; Hurricane Gustav; Tropical Storm Hanna; and Hurricane Ike. ¼ of
economy destroyed. Over 1 million Haitians made homeless, or in need of aid.
These storms caused significant damage to crops, and killed many farm animals (goats, pigs,
The UN cluster system was used in Haiti for the first time, in response to the 2008 weather
disasters, to try to coordinate different efforts by common themes. Journalists, covering this,
should correlate lists of which NGOs are participating in particular clusters, with lists of
NGOs overall, then ask those not participating, why not, then follow-up on their claims.59
2009 May- Former US President Bill Clinton appointed UN special envoy to Haiti. One of
his jobs is to rebuild Haitian economy after the weather disasters. We might ask him when
this task is supposed to get completed.
2009 July- World Bank and International Monetary Fund cancel $1.2bn of Haiti's debt-
80% of the total- after judging it to have fulfilled economic reform and poverty reduction
2009Dec 25storm destroyed the pigeon pea and sorghum harvests (thebean harvest had already
been particularly bad in July). It also killedanimals and destroyed part of the seed stocks.60
2009-2010 an epidemic killed off most all of Haiti’s pigs. Pigs are a staple for poor families,
since they require very little maintenance, and are a source of food.
2010 January– An estimated 300,000 people are killed (lots of dispute over actual numbers)
when a magnitude 7.0+ earthquake hits the capital Port-au-Prince and its wider region- the
worst in the region in 200 years.Millions become homeless. Damage = 100% GDP.61
In fact, when compared to other disasters in human history, with respect to proportion of a
nation or people impacted, this was one of theworst overall.
Presidential palace demolished. Government leadership now from a police station near the
airport. First arrivals consult with Preval there, sharing their plans, obtaining his approval.
58 See URD Feb 2011 magazine, mini-reviewed in my1 year ICVA URD research notes.
59See “Lessons Learned” section 3.2 of ALNAPContext Analysis, for the UN perspective.
Riz Khan explains why the international NGO community does such a poor job of mutual
cooperation in humanitarian aid.
60 See URD Feb 2011 magazine, mini-reviewed in my1 year ICVA URD research notes.
ALNAPContext Analysis, which got it from GoH Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) 2010
associated with theReconstruction effort.
32 Weather and natural phenomena Science risks to Haiti
The UN, and nations the world over, rush all sorts of aid to Haiti.
US takes control ofthe main airport, with the approval of President Preval, to ensure orderly
arrival of aid flights, and to upgrade the airport. Initially the control tower demolished, only
room for 4 planes on ground at same time. US replaces control tower, expands ground
space for planes, so that more and more can deliver aid each day.It takes several weeks
before repairs make it possible for the airport to accommodate all which wish to land.
However, if Preval fails to communicate with his people, to let them know what the Gov of
Haiti is doing to help them, then it appears to the people like he is doing nothing.62
In the aftermath of 2010 January earthquake, Haiti is hit by additional disasters, which are
combination of natural and manmade, which I explore in more detail in other research
2010 Severe Weather visitations
Massive increase in disabled amputees getting almost zero support
Surprise evictions of 1,000 encampments and counting
Epidemic of rape and sexual assault
Other medical crises
Haiti election politics accused of massive corruption.
Public donors find zero confidence in accountability and transparency of
organizations carrying out disaster relief efforts.
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