Friday, September 12, 2008

Haiti Gas Shortages, Soaring Food Costs in Hurricane Ike Aftermath

Bonjou from Cap-Haitien

The aftermath of Nature's devastation seems to take as much if not more of a toll on life here as the actual event.

Tense could best describe the tone of the past few days. As the 3 major bridges are still out, effectively cutting us off from the South and the capitol of PAP [Port-au-Prince], gas reserves dried up completely last Saturday.

Vehicle traffic is down to about a third of regular. Folks with a little gas and papers have started driving east to Ouanaminthe on the border and purchasing gas in the Dominican Republic. Some who wanted a quick buck cut gas with water, sold it for $90 Haitian ($13. US) a gallon and then disappeared.

Police have begun to crack down on street corner sales. Jack and I went by tap-tap to Champin on Wednesday to buy ice. Two tap taps (half full) refused to stop for us. The full tap tap that did stop had a riot break out as the collection boy insisted on charging 10 gourdes fare (in good times we pay 5 gourdes).

The woman across from me began swinging her baby, using the poor mite as a club. There is an air of desperation everywhere. Although the gas pumps were closed, the white gas (kerosene) pump was just selling its last drops.

Crowds were pushing and shoving, the one security guard was ready to fire his gun. In town for market, several stores we frequent are closed, as is the laundromat .

This morning I called Jackson to take me to the bank. He was not working but had a gallon in reserve for our house. As we stopped at our corner to navigate the mountain of garbage (fatra-a) the guard at the CAM money transfer place next door fired his gun and it was just a little too close for my comfort.

Once in town, our little bank Fonkoze was open but not working -- no gas, no generator, no internet, no access to accounts.

Will try again next week. Sogebank was open and working.

Here at home we sent 3 to the clinic today for Malaria testing (if possible). Everything needs gas to operate as generators are the staple of power here.

Alex, Rose-Martha and Esmann will come back Monday for results (we hope). All live in Petit Anse where the flooding was worse.

Slowly we are clearing away the detritus and resuming our lives. Jack is still burning branches and leaves. There is so much it is difficult to dry everything. We have repaired (not replaced -- none available) our wires leading in to the house.

We are now ready for the miracle of electricity. The huge tree which was struck down on our street has been cut away (hand saws of course -- took days!). We can now drive down our street but the mountain of garbage on the Rue Nasyonal is so large that there is a 2 to 3 foot space for turning onto our Impasse. One must drive through the garbage.

Still no word from Sen Rafayel and we are concerned. With the bridge out, the river up, no gas for generators or machines to ferry passengers, all we can do it wait.

Results from state exam rewrites are coming in slowly. Should have word by next week. Two more in who lost everything including back pack with new text books and new uniforms.

Kesner and Camiose were devastated but very accepting of the fact that this is life in Haiti. We start again. The delay in start date and the loss of textbooks means Rosenie and Erzilia are available to work, searching the market for backpacks and text books we need. Pencil cases are impossible to find. Good size backpacks are also rare but the kids will use anything in a pinch.

Don't know what will happen re: food distribution. Today Carmene priced rice at $540 Haitian ($80. US- we buy 3 a week) and a marmite of beans at $35. Haitian ($7. US). We buy 19 marmites at a time for our weekly distribution.

A gallon of oil was $80 Haitian ($11.50) We use 3 gallons per week. Then there is the cost of small sacks for each, large sacks for distribution plus the cost of transport. This puts a weekly distribution program over $400. US per week now. This would double if we added Sen Rafayel. We continue the water distribution program in Cap.

Staff getting ready to leave for the day - more later.

stay safe


Abfab Art Studio said...

Sharon, I can only guess at what you're witnessing every day.

My heart goes out to you and all your kids, and I hope everything gets sorted and back to normal as quickly as possible.

I'm constantly amazed at your courage and determination.

Big hugs
Teena in Australia

Sheila and Keith said...

If our prayers could be answered immediately, you'd all be safe and well by now. The devastation that you are all dealing with is unimaginable in our lives but
please know that we think of you often and hope that all this will end soon and that help will arrive.
My admiration for you continues to grow with each day for the love and commitment you show.
Sheila in B.C.


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