By Maria Montecelos
Les Cayes, Haiti, Aug 18 (EFE).- A group of children play soccer inside a stadium in this southwestern Haitian city while a man whose home was reduced to rubble in a devastating earthquake last weekend rushes to put up a makeshift dwelling.
Fanfan Salomon is one of hundreds of Haitians now living at the stadium-turned-emergency camp for families who lost their houses and nearly all their possessions in the temblor and then almost immediately were threatened by a tropical storm – Grace – that traveled just south of the Caribbean nation and brought heavy rain and flash floods on Monday and Tuesday.
Salomon told Efe he found some tree branches and a tarpaulin amid the debris left by the magnitude-7.2 earthquake, which struck Haiti’s southwestern Tiburon Peninsula on Saturday morning near Les Cayes and left nearly 2,000 dead and around 10,000 people injured. He then used them to make a basic tent offering a certain degree of shelter and privacy for his family of five.
He said his family arrived at the stadium hoping to find shelter from the storm but discovered that it was woefully ill-equipped to meet the needs of a large population left suddenly homeless.
Another resident of the camp, Jocerlaine Marie Michel, a member of a family of nine, wielded an axe while carrying out the same mission as her new neighbor – to provide some form of shelter, no matter how precarious, for her children.
Like nearly all of the residents of the makeshift camp, she arrived there with nothing and on Tuesday night managed to find shelter from the storm at a church near the sports facility.
Other families, including Kama Jhon Peter’s, used a row of seats under the stadium’s bleachers to erect a makeshift dwelling covered by sheeting and were using humanitarian provisions to prepare a meal.
That flimsy dwelling failed to protect them from the elements on Tuesday night, although getting drenched was a minor inconvenience for a family that lost two relatives in the earthquake and has seen many others close to them left homeless, he said.
Alongside his family is that of James Hilaire, who said he was alone at home when the earthquake struck and nearly lost his balance during what felt like an extremely lengthy ordeal.
Haitian authorities estimate that 40 percent of the nearly 684,000 people who live in Haiti’s southwestern region require urgent humanitarian aid, since many were left homeless and unable to support themselves and their families.
Unicef, meanwhile, warned Tuesday that 1.2 million people, including 540,000 children, have limited or no access to shelter, potable water, medical care or proper nutrition.
The earthquake has brought further hardship to an impoverished Caribbean nation where nearly 4.4 million people already were suffering from food insecurity, according to United Nations figures. EFE