Heavy Rains, Heavy Hearts
Heavy rains last Saturday flooded much of the city of Cap-Haitien, leaving people wading in water and debris up to their waists. The water was unusually slow to drain as the ocean inlet was partially blocked by construction for a new bridge. Brown opaque water filled the alleyways and houses, carrying clothes, bottles, plastic bags and other trash, and personal belongings. Men and women trudged through, carrying their babies and toddlers to stop them from drinking the foul water or drowning in it. Even the smallest of open wounds exposed to contaminated water increased the chances of disease transmission and infection. Water from wells became contaminated, or not accessible at all, with faucets underwater. Charcoal stocks for stoves and food were soaked, making cooking impossible. With nowhere to sleep, people found refuge in churches, or slept on roofs.
SOIL responded immediately, ensuring our EcoSan toilets in affected neighborhoods did not present any contamination risks, and meeting with local partners to collaborate on an action plan. For hours, SOIL staff waded through the water to visit every single EcoSan toilet. Public toilets built on a platform were dry and still operational. SOIL found some household toilets above the water level, others that had been perched on the nearest ledge, and others that were floating in the water, yet still unable to spill their contents as they were kept upright within their box. Buckets of waste waiting to be collected were tightly closed, preventing contamination. SOIL staff quickly put cover material piles into buckets to protect against further increases in water level.
SOIL staff also met with representatives of local organizations, most of whom lived within the flooded area. They told SOIL staff on Sunday evening that so far SOIL had been the only organization to venture into the flooded area and to listen to their needs: clean water, somewhere to sleep, medical aid.
In the next few days, SOIL continued to service toilets despite the flooding. The clinic built with SOIL’s help was flooded but is now open, providing aquatabs for water purification and bars of soap. SOIL has provided food and stipends to employees and their families, and is seeking to collaborate with governmental agencies and large NGOs to bring basic necessities to flood victims. Over the next week, SOIL will continue to work on the relief effort and we ask you to contribute to our emergency campaign. Every dollar donated to SOIL goes a long way in providing clean drinking water, and sustainable, flood-proof, ecological sanitation, so please be generous!
Emergency Flood Relief campaign: https://www.oursoil.org/emergency-flood-relief/[slickr-flickr search=”sets” set=”72157633224476758″ items=”50″]
May 7, 2013 (7:55 pm)
Hello Sasha and SOIL Staff,
Hard to read again of floods in a city because of poor planning and insufficient strategies to reduce the impact of nature’s water wrath. We read with amazement how close SOIL is to its community, and how rapidly you mobilize to provide basic survival services to a hurting community.
We will be moving to OKAP in about two weeks, and look forward to contributing as best we can to SOIL’s strategy as well as meeting your dedicated staff.
Kind regards, and thank you for your “Heavy Rain, Heavy Heart” article and pictures; as always, well written and well documented.
May 7, 2013 (8:06 pm)
Thanks Criss! Keep in touch.