Rarely does an earthquake completely devastate a country’s, political, economic and commercial heart, but that is what happened earlier this month in Port-au-Prince. A city already suffering extreme hardship before the catastrophic tremor. Fritz Mevs’ family was among the richest in Haiti. Dubbed by some as the most democratic event to hit the country, Fritz lost a lot when the 7.0 magnitude quake cut through both rich and poor sections of the capital.
“The earthquake does not choose good neighbourhood, bad neighbourhood, rich neighbourhood. The earthquake was so bad that men of the street, working people of the street, people that has no home and no residence and nowhere to go. They call this earthquake the most democratic event that ever happened in the history of Haiti,” Fritz said.
Not everybody is as philosophical. Many Haitians, who can, are deserting the Island – particularly the middle class and well off. They’re not only taking their wealth, but also the skills needed to rebuild the country.
‘‘There’s a shortage of water, and there will soon be an epidemic. There are no doctors, hospitals. I want my country to recover, then I’ll come back after,’‘ one woman said.
For those who have no choice but to stay, the need is dire. Some 610,000 people are currently in 508 temporary camps. Only six of those have drinking water. There is also a desperate need for extra tents.
In the long term, Haiti must rebuild. Around 60 percent of the Caribbean Island’s GDP was wiped out. Half of the houses in Haiti’s main city’s were destroyed. The final bill could cost at least 7 billion euros. Estimates point to anywhere between 10 and 25 years to completely recover. But reconstruction will be tough, not simply in terms of Haiti’s infrastructure but also in terms of healing the scars left by the disaster on Haitians themselves.