PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – One of the heaviest rainfalls since Haiti’s Jan. 12 earthquake swamped homeless camps Friday, sweeping screaming residents into eddies of water, overflowing latrines and panicking thousands.
The overnight downpour sent water coursing down the slopes of a golf course that now serves as a temporary home for about 45,000 people.
There were no reports of deaths in the camp, a town-size maze of blue, orange and silver tarps located behind the country club used by the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne as a forward operating base.
Aid workers said people were swept screaming into eddies of water and flows ripped down tents an Israeli group is using as a school.
“They were crying. There was just fear down there. It was chaos,” said Jim Wilson of the aid group Praecipio, who came running from his own shelter up the hill when he heard the screams.
After the sun rose Friday, people used sticks and their bare hands to dig drainage ditches around their tarps and shanties.
Officials know they must move many of the 1.3 million people before the rainy season starts in earnest in April.
But after two months of searching and wrangling with landowners, the government has still not opened any of the five promised relocation sites that are better able to withstand rain and aftershocks.
Click here to comment on this story »