Monday, January 18, 2010


The disaster in Haiti is bringing out the best and the worst in us all.  Millions of us have donated money, in most cases $10 at a time.  For others a $1,000,000 at a time.  If you watched 60 Minutes last night you saw an image straight out of the Holocost: there were trucks lined up and a big earth mover machine with a giant scoop scooping bodies and dumping them in the trucks, bodies bloated and stacked like cordwood blocking the roadways, bodies left so long in the sun they looked like blowup dolls overinflated to bursting.  No one could get used to that.  No one could do that work and shrug it off. These are the images of a lifetime of nightmares.  Will any of the people who survived the earthquake ever sleep a peaceful night again?  Will the man in the earthmover whose job it is to scoop bodies and drop them into dump trucks ever have another peaceful moment without the scent and sight of such horror invading his mind like a cancer? Will the people who survived the January 12th earthquake and the seven days since without a drop of water or a morsel of food ever forgive the rest of the world?  We have rushed in with search teams and dogs.  We have transported food and water and doctors and medical supplies and soldiers to keep the peace while desperate survivors fight to get the first drops of water in a week and then the water runs out leaving weakened starving people who have waited almost patiently at the end of the line with nothing but desperation, fear, rage.  How many days can one go without water?  Seven days if there are no other bodily traumas.  It's been seven days.

I've heard news people refer to the Haitians who have broken into buildings searching for food or water or shelter as looters.  There is no looting in Haiti.  There is only the desperate need to survive.  Can you imagine yourself in similar circumstances?

There are no roads in Haiti in good repair.  There is destruction everywhere.  There is no power, no hospital, no government, no infrastructure, no police, no safe place to sleep, no rest, nothing but waiting and fear, nothing but the body's need for water, nothing but helpless rage.  There is no looting in Haiti.


Unknown said...

Provocative questions Utah. Makes you wonder about your own personal triage. ?? I agree, they can't be considered looters... they scramble to survive. We are looking at and listening to the ultimate question; how would / will you respond or react under these conditions? Would you be able to allow your best nature to endure through it? There are many personally vital, important questions to face ... in this kind of crisis. With all the 24/7 recycling of the carnage, we can come face to face with thinking it over. Eh? Great post. Really great questions. :-)

jmsjoin said...

Hi Peg!
I watched the rioting and looting a few times. Hired so called police were shooting people. This was on cnn! I saw them guarding the loot and people handed balled up money to get some. It is expected and will get worse. Anyway this is a monstrous scale. They were saying they were unloading 60 tons of food and could feed 70,ooo but think about it.

They need 12 times that and you can't feed people one every 12 days. Not just the US military but all the military's are needed but I can't see them getting along in the same place.

Three million people! I really can't see how we can take care of them. Now they are saying gang green is setting in and they still can't fix broken bones or have necessary medicine. What a mess!

Claire said...

I think that the US and relief agencies are doing the best they can; the tragedy is that that can't possibly be enough. There's just no way to overcome the huge infrastructure challenges to get to everyone in time. I agree on the so-called "looting", though. Every single one of us would take food and water under the same circumstances.

Utah Savage said...

Gwendolyn, thank you.

James your comment is deeply offensive to me.

CDP. thank you for your sensitive comment. This tragedy is breaking my heart.

Mauigirl said...

Very moving post, Utah, and you make very good points. And no, there are no looters in Haiti.

And all the comments are right as well - it is such an immense disaster and tragedy that no matter how hard people are trying to help, not everyone can receive the help that is coming. And for many it will be too late.

Randal Graves said...

Of course there's looting in Haiti. You should know by now that whites survive and non-whites loot. Duh.

My favorite is the "text blah blah to blah blah (standard rates apply)." Of course your phone company would go under if you suspended rates for a week or so. Vive capitalisme.

Fran said...

Thankfully, there ARE roads in Haiti, outside the epicenter & that's good news because Doctor's w/o borders has been denied landing @ the airport. Their lifesaving cargo & personnel have been diverted to the Dominican Republic 5 times.
They have to transport their people & gear over land, losing days of precious time.
I could see this happening once in the chaotic beginning.... but 5 times over several days?
5 different medical cargo loads??

Something is effed up when media can get in there, but the lifesaving doctors & medical supplies can not???

The port has been roughly patched up... one vehicle @ a time can carry loads coming off ships.... yesterday I heard a story that a huge ship arrived from Columbia.
They have tons of food & water.... literally ... but because of the earthquake damage to the pier, it will take 35 DAYS to offload the ship.
they need to coordinate air lifts of the goods.

When you hear of the massive amputations, being done without anesthesia, or pain meds, knowing those diverted planes have the necessities, I have to wonder if it was intentional?

I understand the plan is to disperse people out of the epicenter. That's what i would do- get out of the hot zones.... because there are outlying areas that remain intact.
Still impoverished, as Haiti largely is, but at least they have drinking water.
Before this all happened, Haiti had an 80% poverty rate.

As for the horrors you mentioned, it is heartbreaking. I finally broke down & had a good cry last weekend, feeling overwhelmed with that & family matters.

Will this area ever recover? Experts in recovery relief are talking about a 10 YEAR plan.
Look at post Katrina & the lower 9th ward.
5 years later, it is still a shambles. And that is in one of the wealthiest countries (at the time).

This disaster could not have hit a worse place.
But I admire the strength of the people, helping each other, pulling together.

You are right.... people fighting for their lives are not looting, they are doing what they need to do to survive - Hell on earth.

It is heartening that the worldwide community has pulled together to respond.
Even though the search & rescue has been officially called off, there is an Italian team who continue to dig through the hotel Montana area. Not willing to give up, because they were still finding people alive.

Sadly, it appears they have not been able to get big machinery in to lift the large slabs of concrete, necessary to move ahead w searching.

It is heartbreaking.
But the outpouring of help is heartening.