Monday, 8 November 2010

After the storm

Just after I posted my blog yesterday it started raining, and continued to do so for the next 16 hours. It was light rain at first but as the evening set in, it got heavier and the wind became stronger. Children living in the temporary shelters were put to bed, with their SOS aunties, on mattresses in empty classrooms. The rest of the children’s village and the co-workers who stay in the compound retreated to their houses to sit out the storm.

Empty classrooms provided a solid shelter for children living in the temporary shelters - Photo: H. Atkins

There is something comforting about listening to rain when you are protected from it. But we were the lucky ones. The million-plus people living in Haiti’s displacement camps could only hope for the best, which was that the hurricane would not get too close. In the end it turned out that, despite being of hurricane strength, Tomas was far enough away to be downgraded in our part of Haiti to a tropical storm. Yes, we did get a lot of rain, and yes, the wind did blow all night, but I have heard of only one fatality so far. Unfortunately I am unable to leave the village today so cannot verify conditions.

Fortunately, the temporary shelters were not damaged by the storm - Photo: H. Atkins

Meanwhile, as morning came to the SOS Children’s Village, we got up to inspect the damage. We were pleased to find that the temporary shelters were all intact and no parts had blown away. The compound itself, though wet, was not flooded, and children were able to go out to play. But the wind continues to blow as Tomas moves further north and no one is venturing out of the village. Instead every family has received emergency rations to tide them over in case the storm lasts the weekend.

Emegrency rations will tide families over the weekend, if the storm lasts that long - Photo: H. Atkins

And as we thank God that nothing worse happened we think of our co-workers and the children of our sister village at Cap Haitien. The National Hurricane Center in Florida predicts that Tomas will pass directly over northwestern Haiti tonight, which means that the SOS Children’s Village Cap Haitien could be in for a rough time. They are very much in our thoughts and prayers.

Trying to keep dry makes for creative solutions - Photo: H. Atkins

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