Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Update #2
Gros Morne, Haiti

Port-Au-Prince has become a tent city. Of the more than 1 million people who have fled the city to find shelter in the countryside, 25,000 people (including 5,000 school-age children) have been welcomed into the town of Gros Morne.

Gros Morne is a town of 27,000 people, 65 miles north of PAP in the northern most part of Artibonite district. The trip from PAP takes 5-6 hours by truck. There are an additional 100,000 people in the surrounding mountainous region that depend on the town for supplies and for medical care. The influx of displaced earthquake survivors has created daunting challenges with respect to providing food, medical care, shelter and provisions for children. Gros Morne is a desperately poor region where families subsist from day to day with great insecurity with respect to food and shelter.

Food supplies for displaced people have been provided to Gros Morne by Food for the Poor and Catholic Relief Services. The challenge is transporting the flour, beans, rice, and oil on treacherous secondary roads from the capital city to Gros Morne. Inadequate secure storage space here in town limits food supplies for families to a two week allotment.

The schools are absorbing the additional children and attempting to find funds to pay for books, uniforms, and the one hot meal a day which is provided by the school.

Overcrowding and unhygenic living conditions have created an upsurge in cases of respiratory and diarrheal diseases, particularly among children. One and two room houses (huts) now provide for multiple families of 8-10 people. In addition to its medical programs in Gros Morne, Medicine For Peace has undertaken a home-building program to help accomodate the earthquake survivors now living in Gros Morne. It is unlikely that these people will return to PAP. They have had their homes destroyed, and there is fear of additional earthquakes. MFP will use local labor and local materials to build the additional homes.

Last night at 4:10 AM aftershocks were felt in Gros Morne. - Michael Viola