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25061: Wharram - News - Haiti calls for storm season help (fwd)
>From Bruce Wharram <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Haiti calls for storm season help, floods kill 11
Mon May 9, 2005 06:58 PM ET
By Joseph Guyler Delva
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Reuters) - A Haitian official on Monday called for
international help and money to move thousands of people to safer homes
before the looming hurricane season as weekend floods killed 11 in the
Interior Minister Georges Moise said a large number of people could die if
not relocated from areas vulnerable to mudslides or flash floods. He did not
specify how many people would need to be moved or how much such an operation
In September, torrential rains killed 3,000 people in the northern port city
of Gonaives after Tropical Storm Jeanne, later to become a hurricane, swept
to the north of the impoverished Caribbean country. Floods in the South of
Haiti killed another 2,000 people last May.
"It is a very urgent matter, a disaster may occur any time. We need to move
those people to another place," Moise told Reuters in an interview.
"We want to act, but we don't have the financial means. We need the
international community to help us," he said.
At least 11 people, including a pregnant woman and a 2-year-old girl, were
killed early on Saturday when floods triggered by two hours of heavy rains
covered their flimsy homes in the Coquillo Nazon district of Port-au-Prince.
Officials at the civil protection office said the flooding was aggravated by
the obstruction of drains by dirt and debris. The flood-struck neighborhood
is below street level.
"They are like living in a hole, so when it rains the water just fills the
place and cover the houses," a civil protection investigator said.
Moise said the interior ministry wanted to build shelters for potential
flood victims. The Atlantic-Caribbean basin hurricane season begins on June
1 and runs until the end of November.
"If the international community could help us find the funding to build
shelters, even temporary shelters with tents, that would be very helpful,"
Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, is vulnerable to weather-related
disasters because 98 percent of its forests have been chopped down to
produce charcoal for cooking.
International donors last year pledged more than $1 billion in aid after the
United Nations established a peacekeeping mission in the country. Little of
that money has been dispersed. Former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was
ousted in February 2004 after a monthlong armed revolt and under U.S. and
French pressure to quit.
© Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.