January 11, 2011

The 2010 Haiti Earthquake - One Year Later

"The humanitarian response undertaken in Haiti after the earthquake that struck on 12 January 2010 has been one of the most complex ever. However, as the first anniversary of the quake approaches, the Haitian state, together with the international community, is making little progress in reconstruction." -Oxfam International
Photo's Courtesy of Wiki


Richter Scale photo from this Blog

On January 12th 2010, the Island Nation of Haiti was struck by a devastating magnitude 7.0 earthquake. The country, which was already poverty stricken- was severely damaged by the earthquake. In the weeks following Haiti was hit by 54 aftershocks that destroyed any buildings that remained standing after the original quake.

The epicenter of the earthquake was located just outside of Léogâne- which is only sixteen miles away from Haiti's capital, Port-Au-Prince. In the months after the devastating earthquake many Countries donated relief and recovery funds, and lent crews to help in the rescue efforts. One year later and the country lays in a standstill, with only 2-4% of the rubble being removed. Most Haitians, to this day still reside in makeshift tents and camps created in the weeks following the earthquake.

According to the Red Cross, three million Haitians were affected by the massive earthquake. The Haitian government also estimated that approximately 230,00 people had died, another 300,000 injured and at least 1,000,000 made homeless. The Prime Minister of Haiti, Jean-Max Bellerive, also stated that 250,000 homes were destroyed- as well as 30,000 businesses lost.

Oxfam International, a company who's job is to find solutions to poverty and injustice, released it's Relief to Recovery report(cite) this week citing the many problems facing Haiti now. Oxfam summarized this report also listing recommendations to help Haiti speed up the pace of their recovery.

Oxfam International Summary

PORT-AU-PRINCE – In a report released today, international agency Oxfam called on the Haitian authorities, with support from the international community, to move forward on plans to start rebuilding the shattered country and enable close to one million people still living in tents and under tarpaulins to resettle or return home.

The report, “From Relief to Recovery“, blames a lack of progress on a crippling combination of Haitian government indecision, rich donor countries’ too frequent pursuit of their own aid priorities, and a lacklustre Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, which was established to coordinate reconstruction efforts and build state capacity.

Roland Van Hauwermeiren, country director for Oxfam in Haiti said:
“This has been a year of indecision and it has put Haiti’s recovery on hold. Nearly one million people are still living in tents or under tarpaulins and hundreds of thousands of others who are living in the city’s ruins still do not know when they will be able to return home.

“Rebuilding this shattered country will not happen overnight, but there are key decisions on jobs, clearing rubble, house repairs and allocating land for people who will not be able to return to their homes that can and must be made urgently. We now need the incoming government of Haiti to take its leadership role. The international community, including NGOs, must unite to support the government so that Haitian authorities will have a chance of succeeding.”

Despite the success of emergency lifesaving aid after last year’s earthquake, long-term recovery from the disaster has barely begun. Public donations as well as funding from donor governments and multilateral institutions for the emergency aid effort were exceptionally generous. However, of the $2.1 billion pledged by governments for reconstruction in 2010, only 42 percent had been given by the end of the year according to the UN Office of the Special Envoy for Haiti.

“Too many donors from rich countries have pursued their own aid priorities and have not effectively coordinated amongst themselves or worked with the Haitian government. This seriously weakens the government’s ability to plan and deliver on its sovereign responsibility – to lead reconstruction,” Van Hauwermeiren said.

Most donors provided funds for transitional housing but very little money for clearing rubble or repairing houses. One year on, only five percent of the rubble has been cleared and only 15 percent of the required basic and temporary houses have been built. House building on a large scale cannot be started before the enormous amount of rubble is cleared. The government and donors must prioritize this most basic step toward helping people return home.

The Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, led by former US President Bill Clinton and Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, was set up in April 2010 to facilitate the flow of funds toward reconstruction projects and to help Haitian ministries with implementation. So far, the Commission has failed to live up to its mandate. Many Haitian officials still do not have the technical ability to lead projects, and almost no major reconstruction projects have started. The Commission is a key element for reconstruction and it must cut through the quagmire of indecision and delay.

Despite the current political crisis Haiti’s political and economic elites still have a once in a lifetime chance to address many of the issues that have held back the country’s development. But the process must start now.

“If Haitians are to support themselves then the reconstruction effort must also give priority to helping people earn a living. Above all else, Haitians want to get back to work and provide for their families. They aren’t asking for charity, but for a chance to be part of the process to rebuild their own country. After going through so much last year, Haitians deserve that chance,” Van Hauwermeiren said.

One year on, Oxfam is providing aid to over one million people as part of two emergency responses: one for earthquake relief and one to respond to the cholera epidemic that has swept the country since October, killing over 2,600 people.

Oxfam International Recommendations

The new Haitian government should:

Show real political leadership and urgency in reconstructing the country, including by developing a public works program that creates jobs and builds skills; supporting homeless families to return or resettle in appropriate locations; implementing social protection programs such as cash transfer and micro-credit programs; and investing in agriculture and Haitian businesses; Put measures in place to reduce corruption and improve accountability, and speed up the decentralization of power to local authorities.

International donor governments, the UN, and international NGOs should:

Work far more closely and effectively with the Haitian authorities, reinforcing their capacity and working to improve the performance of ministries;

Donors should release funds promised at the New York conference in March 2010 and improve transparency related to pledges and disbursements. They should co-operate much more closely with each other and should harmonize policies and priorities;

Major stakeholders, including Bill Clinton, should urgently review the workings of the IHRC and speed up delivery of its mandate.

The Haitian authorities, donor governments, the UN, and international NGOs should:

Consult, communicate and effectively involve Haitian citizens in the reconstruction of their country and ensure recovery programs reflect their priority needs.

Well, honestly I expected a lot more then what I found when researching/writing this post. I knew that Haiti couldn't be rebuilt in one week like they do on Extreme Makeover Home Edition, but I expected more then this. It's saddening thinking about what Haitians have to deal with on a daily basis, and than factoring in a catastrophic earthquake- there aren't really words for that feeling.

On a lighter note, surpassing every statistic in the book, a young girl- by the name of Darlene Etienne, survived the earthquake in an astonishing way. Darlene was buried for fifteen days, surrounded by concrete and steel, in a city of ruins. Most search teams had given up hope by the 27th of January- but than against all odds- someone heard a whisper calling for help. A French rescue team dug her out in front of hundreds of stunned onlookers.

A year later, Darlene Etienne is a 17 year old smiling girl living in Artibonite Valley with extended family.



P.F.S. You can find more information on donating to Haiti by clicking here.

xoxo disaster girl

January 6, 2011

The F6 Tornado that never was.

For the first time ever Scientists measure the fastest wind speed ever recorded, 318 MPH, in a tornado that hit the suburbs of Oklahoma City on May 3rd, 1999.

Courtesy of GR Level X

Courtesy of USA Today

On May 3rd, 1999 a super cell thunderstorm spawned a massive tornado that struck near Chickasha, a suburb of Oklahoma City. The storm system tore through Bridge Creek, Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, Moore, Del City, Tinker Air Force Base and Midwest City, Oklahoma, causing $1.1 billion in damage. Over 8,000 homes were destroyed, and it may have been the most costly tornado cleanup in history. Along with the extensive property damage, thirty-six people also lost their lives to the storm.

While the storm was winding down its destructive path, the tornado passed close to a Doppler on Wheels truck, which measured its wind speeds. It was estimated that the tornadoes wind speed may have exceeded the 318 MPH easily surpassing the older record set by the 1993 F5 twister with wind speeds between 257 and 268 MPH, making the strongest tornado on record.

There was much speculation as to whether or not this tornado should have been classified as a F6 tornado instead of an F5. Many argued that because the estimated winds speed had a variable of 10 MPH +/- that it should have been classified as the first ever F6 tornado. Weather experts argued back that the classification in the Fujita Scale was not entirely based upon wind speeds but based on damage and destruction. The tornado was never classified as an F6 but the Fujita scale has since been retired in the U.S.A. and replaced with the Enhanced Fujita scale which sets less wind speed parameters.

P.F.S.There isn't a Category 6 on the Saffir-Simpson scale, but if there was, an F5/EF5/F6/EF6 tornado would essentially equal a Category 6, with winds well over 250 mph.

Enhanced Fujita Scale Wiki

xoxo disaster girl

January 2, 2011

Ringing the New Year in with Disaster

"Let our New Year's resolution be this:
We will be there for one another as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense of the word."
-Goran Persson

Picking up the Pieces

We're barely 48 hours into 2011 and already parts of the world have been hit with disaster. In days when people should be caring about humanity and all of our futures, we preoccupy ourselves with meaningless resolutions. Hoping and dreaming and setting goals for the future doesn't work unless you're willing to put action into it. If you ask me, the world's resolution should have been Peace, Furthering of Humanity, and a crash course in Compassion. In saying that, unfortunately, I sound more like Miss America than Disaster Girl.

My New Year's Resolution this year (I only make a resolution when I stick to the last years resolution), was to try and post about every disaster/accident/storm. So let's dive right in, because we already have some catching up to do...

January 1st & 2nd, 2011

1. New Year's Eve tornadoes kill 7, 3 in Arkansas, 4 in Missouri- Leaving families picking up the pieces on New Year's Day.
Full Article at The Washington Post

2. Russian passenger jet explodes while taxing down runway in Siberia, 3 killed, 43 injured.
Full Article at Mercury News

3. Bomb explodes during New Year's Eve service at Egypt Alexandria Coptic Church, killing 21 and injuring 97, in an apparent suicide bombing attack.
Full Article on BBC

4. Two hot air balloons crash in Somerset, UK, killing two.
Full Article on BBC

5. Pilot accidently puts radio on wrong frequency, causes the entire evacuation of U.S. Capital.
Full Article on Yahoo/Associated Press

6. Queensland, Australia experiences floods of "Biblical" proportions- Thousands evacuated, State's of Emergency declared, One confirmed dead, others still missing.
Full Article on Business Week

7. 5,000+ Dead birds fall from the sky in Arkansas town, cause still being determined.
Full Article on CNN

8. Major 7.1 Earthquake strikes Central Coastal Chile, no immediate reports of major damage or injury.
Full Article on CNN

Happy Freakin' New Year!

xoxo disaster girl