from Amber Lynn Munger
Three nights ago a nightmare we hadn’t imagined possible began in Haiti. Like any shocking and horrifying tragedy, we will all remember and tell stories of where we were when we heard about the 7.0 earthquake that shattered Haiti on January 12, 2010. Haiti KONPAY has been playing a critical role coordinating a rapid response to the crisis in both Jacmel and Port-au-Prince. We are currently coordinating efforts to identify and assess needs and also working out logistics to get much needed human and materials resources onto the ground.
Through collaboration with several key partners in the U.S. we are working with a pool of qualified medical professionals and interpreters prepared to travel to Haiti. Beyond Borders is creating a database of potential volunteers and vetting applicants. We are also receiving many helpful offers and are coordinating a team of volunteers following up on the most promising of these. We have outlined a comprehensive rapid response strategy and are contacting other major organizations to share ideas and encourage collaboration. We are seeking meetings with USAID, the UN, the Clintons and others tasked with coordinating international response to share the ideas generated by dozens of smaller NGOs with decades of Haiti experience who are currently working together to carry out immediate response on the ground.
We are pursuing two major strategies right now:
- Delivering immediate support to people on the ground in Jacmel and Port-au-Prince by coordinating the transport of supplies and volunteers. Carefully design volunteer interventions to avoid exacerbating the developing food and water shortages.
- Encouraging the evacuation of Port-au-Prince and establish the resources necessary to assist victims when they arrive in the countryside by assessing existing resources in outlying areas and sending teams and equipment to clinics. Coordinating with Americans living in lesser-affected areas to support with transport vehicles and coordination of volunteers in the field.
Below find reports on the efforts underway with partners in Jacmel and Port-au-Prince, and two assessments from a team already on the ground.
Out today from the UN in Jacmel these are some details of the damage in Jacmel, which is a city of 34,000:
- 1,785 homes completely destroyed
- 4410 homes partially destroyed
- 87 commercial businesses destroyed
- 54 schools destroyed
- 24 hotels destroyed
- 26 churches destroyed
- 5730 families displaced
- Death count approaching 3,000, nearly 10% of the population
(Reported by Gwenn Mangine, www.mangine.org)
We have received a number of reports listing major buildings in Jacmel which collapsed, including: the La Trinite school, Interfamilia school, half of the primary section at the Alcibiade school and cultural center, part of the hospital and many other buildings.
KONPAY Co-Founder Joe Duplan is on the ground in Jacmel and is part of a coordination team with Guerda Placide of Fondasyon Limyè Lavi. FLL’s sister organization is Beyond Borders; Director David Diggs is working closely with Melinda Miles in the U.S. Joe and Guerda spent today making a list of buildings damaged, urgent needs and potential sites to house volunteers and set up clinics and temporary housing. In addition, they met with the Haitian National Police, Fire Chief and Mayor’s office to discuss how to best coordinate and work together to respond to immediate needs.
Obstacles: Jacmel is currently unreachable by land routes due to collapsed areas on the road to Port-au-Prince at Tomb Gateau and St. Etienne. Until this afternoon the runway and airport were filled with people who had fled the ruins of the town, but the UN peacekeepers reportedly have the field clear now for their planes to land, however it is almost impossible for us to get clearance to land there.
We are following several promising leads on getting boats donated in the Dominican Republic or surrounding island nations that can carry our medical professionals and supplies directly to Jacmel. Helicopters are also a possibility but very expensive.
The situation in PAP is growing more desperate by the moment. We are working with Amber Munger who is headquartered at the Matthew 25 Guest House in Delmas 33, where a triage hospital has been set up on the soccer field. In addition, Reed Lindsay, journalist with TeleSur and head of the Honor and Respect Foundation, is on the ground and will be joining Amber tomorrow. Also about to be part of the team are Sasha Kramer of SOIL and Catherine Lainé of Appropriate Infrastructure Development Group (AIDG). AIDG also has structural engineers on the way.
This team will be coordinating the response in PAP. They will help us get resources – human, material and financial – to where they are needed most. They have immediate needs such as diesel for generators and cash to keep buying food, and in the short-term they need medical supplies, food and other equipment. There is also a need to start digging trenches for temporary burial in the immediate neighborhood.
Reed Lindsay’s text Thursday night:
“The worst may yet to come, if we do not act fast. People are already thirsty, and water, is difficult to find, even to buy. I drove through the entire city today and didn’t see a single aid distribution. Al Jazeera news team told me the same. Streets are normally lined with street food merchants. Now difficult to find any food and it will get worse. Situation desperate but could get catastrophic soon. Thousands are dead, probably tens of thousands. Bodies hauled off in trucks to be buried in common graves, but many bodies still lying on the street and many more in wreckage. It is too late for them. But for those who survived, time is running out. Communities are starting to organize. But they have no resources. Everyone sleeping in streets and plazas parks. They have set up their own refugee camps. Thousands have fled for countryside. But most have nowhere to go.”
Amber Munger, working with KONPAY, reported yesterday:
“In my thirteen years of working in Haiti, not once before have I seen such massive destruction as we are experiencing now. Nor have I seen such motivation, determination, compassion, and solidarity among people. When we entered portoprens after the quake struck, the city had fallen and was continuing to fall as a result of continuous aftershocks. The streets were full of people sitting together. Everyone was sitting in the middle of the roads for fear that the houses would continue to fall on them. They were singing. The whole city was singing. They were singing songs of solidarity. They were singing songs of thanks and praise that they were still able to sing and to be together. These people have lost everything. The city is now a city of refugees. But they are putting their voices together to be thankful.”
Major obstacles are transportation of donations and volunteers. We are working on several angles right now to get supplies either via land from the Dominican Republic, on planes into PAP or on cargo ships possibly via the St. Marc port. Communication remains a serious obstacle to coordinating with other groups on the ground, but Amber is stepping up her efforts to be in touch with other groups offering emergency relief and hopes to move to the new MINUSTAH (UN Peacekeeping Mission) center for NGOs once it is set up.
Two reports from Johns Hopkins University teams that are in PAP with Amber now:
1. Rapid Assessment Survey: Delmas 31
Location: Commune of Delmas, area Delmas 31 (28SqKm)
Surveyors: Remle Stubbs-Dame and Lenka Heller
Infrastructure: 50-75% houses collapsed
Demographics: 834 individuals surveyed (296 children).
Total Population prior to earthquake: 341,791 (IHSI, 2007)
Deaths: 10% death rate among population surveyed
Injuries: 5%-10% of population surveyed is critically injured and not receiving medical care
Immediate Needs: (Population will run out of food and water within 24-48 hours)
- Removal of deceased from streets
- Potable water
- Medical treatment of superficial wounds (alcohol, gauze, antibiotics, betadine)
- High-calorie food
- Sanitation/waste management
Status of population: At time of survey, majority of population was calm, understanding, and patient. Tension is rising quickly in settlements since most of them lack all immediate needs.
NGOs: Encountered two aid workers with limited supplies who were based in the community
- Chappelle Evangelique of Delmas 9 and Delmas 11 – operating a clinic but leaving on 1/15/10.
- American schoolteacher has building for safety, feeding, and limited medical supplies for basic wounds: Sherrill E. Fausey (Christian Light Ministries foundation) email@example.com)
General Assessment: The commune is predominately low class with a small share of middle class and slum settlements. An estimated 50-75% of structures have collapsed completely. About 50 people are still trapped under the rubble; the majority are confirmed deceased. There are approximately 25 small settlements (100-300 people) in the area. There are also at least 2-5 larger make-shift camps in parks of approximately 1,000-3,000 people. Those who still have homes are sleeping on the street at night for safety. We surveyed a densely populated section of Delma 31. The damage varied from from street to street, from 25% – 75% of the houses had fallen partially or completely, and an additional 10-15% were structurally inhabitable. During the visual survey, which covered an area of approximately 500 square meters, observers noted one functioning market and one market that was running out of food. Out of approximately six water stores passed, only one was open and still distributing water, albeit slowly to the large line which had congregated. Surveyed participants reported that on the morning of the 13th water vendors had been walking along the road, but since 12pm no water was being sold by individuals.
Camp and Small Settlement Visits: Delma 31
- Camp 1: 5,000-13,000 inhabitants. 45% children. Food vendors set up on either side, and at least one day’s supply of water for most inhabitants. One medical team operating, but leaving PaP tomorrow. No one running the camp.
- Camp 2: 2000 inhabitants. 424 hurt, 44 gravely injured. No food, less than one day of water. No medical care. Contact: Lieu Parc Maguana Delmas 31, Rue Maguana, Tel 509-3400-7908, 3944-9594. In charge: Patrick Etienne, Psychologist.
- Settlement 1: 300-350 inhabitants. Mostly minor injuries. No food, water, medical care. Rue De Mabwa # 3 (empty lot).
- Camp 3: 2,000 inhabitants. 20% critically injured. 24 hour supply of food, no water, no medical care. Rue Saint Phare
2. Medical Report: Bourdon Valley
Over the last two days our team has provided medical care in the Bourdon Valley community. We saw patients with injuries ranging from superficial abrasions, burns, crushed limbs, and many infected and gangrenous wounds scraping down to muscle and bone. Yesterday and the day before, we passed through smaller groups of people huddled together seeking refuge away from their houses with a range of injuries. Today we traveled to the prime minister’s house with people camping on the grass since the earthquake. There are hundreds maybe thousands of people camping there. We worked alongside a team of Haitian doctors and nurses along with a team of medical workers from China. Most of the injured people here had already received some type of rudimentary treatment, and with several of them there was nothing further that could be done besides waiting for appropriate antibiotics and surgical care that was needed. We redressed many wounds. We are a team of two doctors and two medical students and our skills and resources only allow for suboptimal palliative care. Giving a girl maximum strength ibuprofen after her leg has been shattered and is now necrosing is not ideal to say the least. Many people needed urgent surgery at this stage. People need orthopedists, trauma surgeons, and anesthesiologists. Other specialists that would be useful: ophthalmologists, primary care.
A list of key supplies we came up through our experience and the request of another Haitian doctor:
Pain control (Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, morphine, tramadol, lidocaine, lidocaine cream)
Wound cleaning (hydrogen peroxide, gauze, swabs, iodine, ace bandages, gloves, plastic bags, masks, tweezers, tape, alcohol wipes, triple antibiotic cream, sterile water)
Antibiotics (IV antibiotics, co-trimoxazole, amoxicillin, tetanus vaccinations with cold chain, ciprofloxacin, clindamycin, metronidazole, eyedrops)
Chronic medications (glucose checker, metformin, insulin, antihypertensives – hydrochlorthiazide and ACE inhibitors)
Oral rehydration therapy