Earthquake in Haiti: One Year Later
Wednesday will mark the one year anniversary of the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti. It killed more than 230,000 people and displaced over a million more. Many problems still persist and little progress has been made in Port-au-Prince over the past year.
They say it is just the way things work in Haiti; progress is measured in inches, at a snail's pace, but for those who are living in squalor one year later, that is not a good enough answer. In Port-au-Prince the scene is catastrophic: the presidential palace is still in ruins and the national cathedral is barely recognizable. The number of families out of homes and on the streets continues to grow.
"We just live like animals over there," said Carlos Gin Charles, who lives in a tent city. "We have many problems; the problems we have no food, no water, diseases, rape, people stealing stuff."
Gin Charles lives in a survivor camp named Cité Soleil. More than 2,000 families have been on the narrow stretch of land since the 7.0 earthquake rocked Haiti last January. He says desperation is growing.
"We are going to fight against [the government]," he said. "I don't care if we die. We're going to take guns. Even if I die, me and my brother are going to fight. So much corruption in this country."
In some neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince, it looks like the earthquake just happened. It is estimated that only 2 percent of the rubble has actually been cleared from the capital city.
"There's no guide book on how to deal with this," said Miyamoto Structural Engineer Cory Kilcullen. "We are in a country that has no infrastructure. We're in a country that wasn't functioning very efficiently before the earthquake."
Structural engineers like Kilcullen are moving through the streets of Port-au-Prince, checking almost 400,000 buildings to date.
"We're ideally putting down the framework for what we could have as a building department," Kilcullen explained. "Some sort of checks and balances and a way to enforce future building codes."
That is welcomed news for Felix Paul Michuel; he too lost his home and is now forced to live in a tent. Ironically, when the quake hit Paul Michuel was celebrating, now he shares a birthday with the anniversary of the earthquake.
"The people cannot live in the tents," he said. "It's very, very bad. I cannot say the situation is better."
Money continues to pour in to the country, $712 million from the U.S. alone, but it is taking time to get to the people. Some say that is a good thing.
"The system in Haiti does not work very well," said Haiti Fund Executive Director John Winnings. "So, my sense of it is, that there will be less waste and less loss of the value of the money if it goes in a slower and measured process."
So much is said about Port-au-Prince, most people do not know the epicenter of the quake was 17 miles west of the capital in a town called Leogane. It is about the size of Charlottesville.
In part 2 of his special report, Earthquake in Haiti: Rebuilding at the Epicenter, NBC29's Henry Graff takes you to the epicenter and tells you why Charlottesville's Building Goodness Foundation was there.