Haiti, Bahamas: Hurricane Hanna

Raging flood waters from Hurricane Hanna – Photo courtesy haitianchildrenshome.org; used with permission. Visit their flickr photostream.

Haiti didn't need another tropical storm, far less another hurricane. But the Atlantic hurricane season can be a cruel taskmaster; storms strike the Third World as evenhandedly as they do the First World, but for developing nations, the recovery process seems to be that much slower and more challenging.

As Hanna descended upon the island, she brought with her more rains, more flooding and more death.

Friends for Heath said that “as with most things in Haiti”, they were at the mercy of the forces of nature:

We’ve had another 24 hours of high winds and drenching rains as Haiti felt the effects of nearby tropical storm Hannah. The rain started around midnight Monday night and when we got up yesterday morning, our flat roof had several inches of water on it, the storage depot was flooded and there were several tree branches down in the yard. It rained on and off all day, with intermittent heavy winds, but we did not suffer any further damage. We talked with friends in Port-au-Prince, who said that several areas there were flooded again. The worst hit area was Gonaives and St. Marc, with extensive flooding leaving thousands homeless.

Konbit Pou Ayiti agreed that “sometimes it can be hard to believe that Mother Nature is not cruel”, posting photos to drive the point home:

Haiti is the country in this region that is least able to weather a storm of any size. Even just a hard rain can result in death and destruction. Over the last week, two major storms hit Haiti. Hurricane Gustav was a Category Two hurricane when it made ground in Jacmel, bringing ninety mile per hour winds and pounding rain to the area. At the beginning of this week, Hurricane Hanna took a second swipe at the island, leaving the towns of Gonaives and Les Cayes underwater.

The remnants of a house post-Hurricane Hanna – Photo courtesy haitianchildrenshome.org; used with permission.

Several bloggers, disheartened at the daunting prospect of facing even more loss and damage than they did with Gustav, turned to prayer. RHFH Rescue Center was matter-of-fact about it:

Haiti cannot take a category 3 hurricane. We cannot. Please pray!

The Haiti Lady hoped her prayers would help the thousands of families adversely affected by the storm, noting that “Haiti's death toll from Hanna doubles to 137″ and “some 250,000 people are affected around the country's fourth-largest city.”

Prayerforce.Org got in on the prayer blogging action right around the time Hanna was hitting the Bahamas:

She has killed over 90 people in Haiti due to floods and mudslides, in addition to the 75 Haitians killed by Hurricane Gustav.

Haiti, an impoverished nation of 9 million souls, was already on the edge of starvation before these two storms. Most Haitians live on less than $2 a day and the meteoric rise in the price of oil, along with manipulation of global markets by hedge funds, had already caused food shortages.

Uprooted Tree – Photo courtesy haitianchildrenshome.org; used with permission.

Haiti Reborn posted links to several mainstream media stories about the damage, saying:

Tens of thousands of Haitians are trapped in the flooded city of Gonaives in a gruesome replay of what happened in Hurricane Jeanne in 2004.

The blog, along with Dying in Haiti, also published emails from people who gave first-hand accounts of the damage:

In Gros Morne we hardly got a drop from Gustav but it wouldn't let Hanna move on after Hanna slammed us hard. It's worse than Hurricane Jeanne here.

Much property and garden lost. Five houses in town were washed into Riviere Mancelle.

We don't have many reports because roads are out and phone don't work in a number of places. Gonaives is dreadful because of Hanna, and Ike and Josephine are on their way.

North-west of Haiti, in the Bahamas, Nicolette Bethel was taking a wait-and-see approach:

I’m sitting here, a tropical storm watch active for the area, while three storms line up and take aim on us.

Of them, the one that worries me the most is Ike — a decent Cat Four hurricane currently heading straight for Nassau.

Today, she posted this update:

Hanna has passed without incident, as expected. Ike has weakened and has shifted a little so that the eye is no longer heading for New Providence but further south. We don’t know what will happen, but there it is.

We’re keeping our eyes on the storm.

Keeping their eyes on the storm is really all the Caribbean can do until this year's hurricane season is over.


Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.