A woman stands in front of a destroyed home in the aftermath of an earthquake in Les Cayes, Haiti, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. A 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti on Saturday, with the epicenter about 125 kilometers ( 78 miles) west of the capital of Port-au-Prince, the US Geological Survey said. (AP Photo/Duples Plymouth)

By Ralph E. Moore Jr.
Special to the AFRO

Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, seems to have the worst luck.

The powerful 7.2 earthquake that rocked the Caribbean island of Haiti on August 14, killed 2,000 persons according to news reports, with 12,000 more having been injured and 300 missing as of this writing. It seems like only yesterday that a massive quake killed tens of thousands there and uprooted thousands more. And yet, it was in 2010 that hell came to Haiti the last time, leaving 100,000 buildings destroyed in its devastating path. Lives lost, lives ruined then. And so now, the world was shocked when massive destruction slapped the island again.  

“Earthquakes are the result of the tectonic plates slowly moving against each other and creating friction over time,” said Gavin Hayes, senior science adviser for earthquake and geologic hazards at USGS (The United States Geological Survey).

“That friction builds up and builds up and eventually the strain that’s stored there overcomes the friction,” Hayes said. “And that’s when the fault moves suddenly. That’s what an earthquake is.”

Earthquakes are like a sucker punch. They hit when one doesn’t expect it. And the strength of the strike and the surprise timing are what hurts so much.

The 2010 earthquake in Haiti happened near Port-au-Prince, an area with much more population, and though weaker than the most recent quake, conflicting death toll counts range from the Haitian government’s figure of more than 300,000 to the U.S. government’s estimate of somewhere between 46,000 and 85,000. So far, numbers of deaths are not nearly as high. 

Just a few days after the ground shook so violently, the rain came down from Tropical Storm Grace drenching southern Haiti’s survivors already clinging to hope in makeshift shelters. 

From a published report by Anatoly Kurmanaev from Port-au-Prince and Constant Méheut from Paris, “In a situation like this, you feel you’re powerless,” said Abiade Lozama, an Anglican archdeacon based in the south of the country, which was hard hit by the quake. “Many people are in need and there’s nothing you can do.”

Archdeacon Lozama said hundreds of people made homeless by the earthquake streamed into a technical school he runs in the town of Les Cayes, seeking shelter from rain and wind.

Left homeless by the devastation, Haitians scramble for food, supplies and safety from aftershocks now that the torrential rain has finally ended.  With little to cling to, hope for help from the rest of the world seems like an only real option, though challenging. 

Most of the eyes of the world are focused on Afghanistan and the government takeover by the extremist Taliban after 20 failed years of U.S. military engagement to try to stop them. Women’s rights are especially violated by the Taliban but resistance might be the only hope there.

In the meantime, the Haitians need help, too. 

It is not a matter of assisting either Afghanistan or Haiti this is a both/and situation.  Contact information for relief groups is available online.  Some groups are soliciting for both sets of needs such as Doctors Without Borders.

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