NPR logo Anxiety Fills Reviving Port-Au-Prince Streets

Anxiety Fills Reviving Port-Au-Prince Streets

The streets of Port-au-Prince seem livelier — a frenzy of sorts has taken over the devastated city.

Locals are now selling their wares along busy sidewalks, and traffic is heavy. A 20-minute trip before the earthquake 11 days ago can now take up to an hour and a half or more. There is more competition on the roads, because several gas stations are now open. There's also less road; big piles of rubble often take up to half of the street.

As we drove around the battered capital, we spotted people selling all kinds of stuff — both on sidewalks and in small mom-and-pop shops; offerings range from fresh produce to clothing and paintings.

But this activity can be deceiving, because nothing is normal here yet. I'm working with NPR correspondent John Burnett, and everywhere we go, we attract crowds eager to share their frustrations.

We came across an open-air market that started doing business Saturday. Locals were selling fresh vegetables like tomatoes, eggplants, green peppers, plantains and pineapples, as well as staples like dry fish, rice, flour and coal.

Benita Joseph was selling ketchup, mayonnaise and canned milk. She was angry. She said the government had not come by to check on residents or offer food since the quake.

Joseph doesn't have a home anymore, and she's sleeping at the market. Her only possessions are the clothes she's wearing and the goods she's selling. But when she runs out of goods and money, she said, "I don't know what I'll do."

Meanwhile, injured Haitians continue to flood hospitals — people kept lining up for treatment at a field hospital set up by Cuban doctors. Clenette Cermot was among them. She screamed in agonizing pain as doctors cleaned her infected ankle wounds. The operating and treatment room are outdoors — both for practicality and for safety as aftershocks continue to terrify patients.

In one busy area, people started running and screaming when they heard the sound of a microbus crashing against a utility pole. Even when some semblance of normalcy seems to spread in the city, aftershocks continue to be a scary reminder of loss and pain. Memories are fresh, and it will be a long time before victims of this quake recover from the trauma.