Haitians take refuge during a recent storm. (Photo: AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)
As Haiti embarks on what’s predicted to be an active hurricane season, questions on their readiness still remain.
Thursday, a United Nations official stated the nation is “far better off than last year” in hurricane preparedness during a press conference in Port-au-Prince. They still need $13 million to finish preparing, Nigel Fisher, who serves as the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative to Haiti, added.
But in an interview with the Miami New Times published earlier this week, President Michel Martelly expressed great doubt.
“In the past we have seen how many hurricanes have destroyed us,” Martelly, who visited the National Emergency Operation Center along with Fisher and other officials Thursday, said. “Sometimes even rain causes us problems. So we are definitely not ready for the hurricane season.”
Martelly also says his nation lacks the proper infrastructure and has already called for the drains to be worked on. With the ground already saturated, “if we have a particularly rainy season, that could turn into a problem,” he told the Miami New Times.
In 2008, Haiti was walloped by four consecutive hurricanes in just a few weeks. And last year, the nation found itself less prepared for the season as they were still in the midst of recovering from a massive earthquake in January.
During his visit Thursday, Martelly asked questions about hurricane preparation while touring the facility. He also proposed that there be a special fund for the Emergency Operations Center, Haiti Libre reports.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says that during this season, which lasts for six months, the country could see 18 tropical storms and three to six major hurricanes, reports the Associated Press.
In addition, many in the nation made homeless by the earthquake are still living in temporary housing making them more susceptible to natural elements. And to make matters worse, the mayor of one large Haitian city in the Port-au-Prince region is evicting dwellers in their temporary settlements due to high crime, leaving hundreds of residents with no place to go.
With a potentially lively season, all of these factors could spell disaster.