Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Prophets of Doom

I love the Internet. I was on line yesterday when the first news of Haiti's 7.3 earthquake hit the news sites. And if frankly amazed me how quickly photos were uploaded and posted. The quake hit in Port-au-Prince, the nation's capital and naturally crashed the electric grid and communication lines.

I know people not on Haiti but on nearby islands and was of course anxious to know how they fared with the tsunami warnings out. So this morning I was quickly on messenger asking for an update. I am thrilled to report my friend Barbara and her family are fine. But the early news about the millions of residents of Port-au-Prince does not seem as good.

There is nothing like a disaster some place else to put your own trivial problems in perspective. I can turn on my heat if I want but they have no roofs over their heads - those that survived that is. It seemed inappropriate to post a blog about my issues given theirs so I went Googling for a photo to honor their plight and found the one above. It was attached to an article published in 2008 by the Haiti News.

According to Patrick Charles of the Geological Institute of Havana conditions were ripe for a major seismic event in Port-au-Prince.  "Port-au-Prince is traversed by a large fault which is part of the Enriquillo Fault Zone.  The fault starts in Petionville and follows the Southern Peninsula ending at Tiburon. In 1751 and 1771, this town was completely destroyed by an earthquake. As proof to his claims, he referred to recent tremors that have occurred in Petionville, Delmas, Croix des Bouquets, and La Plaine. Minor tremors such as these usually signal a larger earthquake to come."

Buildings in this poverty stricken major metropolis are shabby to say the least. The stacks of homes on the hillsides look like houses of cards. And in spite of Charles's warning conditions did not allow for people to go out and make the sort of changes necessary to prevent massive building collapse when this earthquake occurred. To make the future more iffy the volcano on the island of Montserrat to the southeast of Haiti is showing increased activity. This puts all the islands of the Lessor Antilles, as well as the northern coastal area of South America, at risk of a tsunami.

We have the tendency here in the United States to nay say all the prophets of doom when they talk about the San Andres fault line and the volcanoes of our section of the Pacific rim. Be advised that Patrick Charles was right with his prediction.

My thoughts this morning are with the survivors of the earthquake on Haiti and with all the disaster teams that are going there to help out.


  1. NBC, and news services
    updated 2:09 p.m. ET Jan. 13, 2010

    PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Death was everywhere Wednesday in this devastated city of 2 million. Bodies of tiny children were piled next to schools. Corpses of women lay on the street with stunned expressions frozen on their faces as flies began to gather. Bodies of men were covered with plastic tarps or cotton sheets.

    Moreover, untold numbers were still trapped after a powerful earthquake Tuesday crushed thousands of structures — from schools and shacks to the National Palace and the local U.N. headquarters.

    As nations around the world mobilized to send help, Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive told Reuters that he believed the casualties would be "in the range of thousands of dead."


    Actually is it now 500,000.

    There are millions of people crammed into Port-au-Prince and one wonders how many will be found. I heard a woman screaming last night 'it's the end of the world'. My blood ran cold - not because she thought it was the end of the world but because of the sheer fear and panic in her voice.

    I was so relieved last night when they called the tsunami watch off. It was one less thing for people to have to worry about but the after shocks were almost as bad as the quake itself. It is interesting that little was felt in the Dominican Republic.

    These people really need help - the charity volunteers who are there on a permanent basis cannot keep up with the needs of people. on an ordinary day to day basis - imagine how it is now.

    A disaster of this magnitude which probably will have cost millions their lives puts our, well certainly my day to day problems, into prospective.

    Thank you for thinking about us and for messaging me this morning Jacqui. We were worried about the possible tsunami but mightily relieved when the watch was called off last night.

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  3. Jacqui, this prediction by a scientist fell on deaf ears, unfortunately. No doubt Haiti's internal problems and lack of funds contributed to the lack of response.

    Unfortunately now a massive disaster has to be dealt with not only by Haiti, but also by all nations around the world who will rush to its humanitarian aid.


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