Relief Efforts Under Way In Flood-Stricken Haiti
JACKI LYDEN, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Jacki Lyden.
Tropical Storm Hanna is drenching much of the Eastern Seaboard today. The wind and rains have eased considerably since Hanna lashed the Caribbean island nations of Haiti and the Dominican Republic earlier this week. More than 150 people were killed in Haiti, where floodwaters remain and relief efforts are under way to help people in isolated towns and villages.
NPR's Jason Beaubien is on the line now from the hard-hit city of Gonaives, Haiti. Jason, now, what's it like there in Gonaives?
JASON BEAUBIEN: Well, at the moment, I'm halfway up to my knees in water. We still got about a foot of water in the streets, and that's in the best of places. And this water is completely brown. There's mud everywhere. I mean, just around me right now, there're some people on the roof just across from me, some children, the entire families up on the roof. I mean, all of these buildings have been shattered in a city that's an incredibly poor city in an incredibly poor country. And now, these buildings have been just completely slammed by the floods from Hurricane Hanna.
LYDEN: So, how are people holding up? This is their second hurricane in just over a week. They're also pretty hard hit by Gustav.
BEAUBIEN: They were hard hit by Gustav, then it was Tropical Storm Hanna and we've got Ike off the coast. People are incredibly nervous here. Some people are actually leaving at this point, trying to get up to higher ground. People have been without any food or water for quite a few days because all road access into here was cut off.
The waters came through, you know, at a second-story level, so that just wiped out anything. There's nothing left in any of the stores. So, people are sort of really hanging on. As I've been standing here, people have been coming up to me asking for food, asking for water. A lot of people are desperate.
LYDEN: Is Gonaives particularly low-lying?
BEAUBIEN: It is particularly low-lying. There are sort of mountains that surround it and it's a port city. So, the water just came rushing off of the surrounding area and barreled right through here. It also did that in 2004 when Hurricane Jean. It hit here and also did similar damage and it took them years. They were still trying to recover from that. It's a fairly dire situation.
LYDEN: How would you rate the relief effort going on there, Jason, presuming there is one? I mean, we can hear that people are coming up and asking you for food and water. Are they getting that sort of thing?
BEAUBIEN: People are getting some food and water. It's still very touch and go because they don't have any road access. The U.N. is flying everything in here in helicopters. They also brought in one boat, but things are still quite dire in terms of the needs of people. Things are not going incredibly well in terms of the relief effort, although there's been a real effort to get as much food and clean water in here as possible.
LYDEN: And where is Hurricane Ike now relative to Haiti?
BEAUBIEN: Hurricane Ike is off the north shore and the U.N. base, which is providing all of the relief operation. It's actually under an evacuation at the moment and they're taking out all non-essential personnel because they're afraid that this area is going to get slammed again, not directly by Hurricane Ike, but by some of the outer bands of rain.
And with the hills so saturated already, people are worried that even a light rain could end up causing more flooding here in Gonaives.
LYDEN: NPR's Jason Beaubien in Gonaives, Haiti. Thank you very much, Jason.
BEAUBIEN: You're welcome.
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