As Heavy Rains Fall, Aid Groups Warn of Coming Catastrophe

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Friday, 19 March 2010 12:13
Heavy rains hell in Port-au-Prince today, the AP reports. The rains, some of the heaviest yet, damaged shelters and sent fear throughout the camps. Although no deaths were reported, the AP reports:
Aid workers said people were swept screaming into eddies of water and flows ripped down tents an Israeli aid group is using to teach school.

"They were crying. There was just fear down there. It was chaos," said Jim Wilson of the aid group Praecipio, who came running from his own shelter up the hill when he heard the screams.
Despite efforts to relocate the displaced to more secure locations, none of the five spots designated by the government have been opened, according to the AP.

Also today, Sam Worthington, the head of Interaction, a group of over 190 NGOs, warned that it is too late to avoid a second disaster and that the tents and tarps are just not enough. AFP reports:
"Having observed camps on very steep slopes and that you cannot simply relocate hundreds of thousands of people easily, we anticipate that the rainy season will lead, to a certain degree, to another catastrophe that despite the hard work of the international community will be hard to avoid," he told AFP.

"Deaths, landslides and so forth," he explained, adding: "What we can do is work with the UN to create shelters that people can find refuge in, but there simply isn't the time."
The head of the UN humanitarian relief effort, John Holmes, echoed Worthington's comments, telling AP that:
"We're running out of time, honestly."

Tags: interaction | john holmes | rainy season | shelter | UN