Jan. 12, 2011, marked the one-year anniversary when Port-Au-Prince, Haiti’s capital and largest city, was rocked by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake. Haitians and Americans joined together in Haiti, Miami and New York to mark the one-year anniversary of the earthquake. The masses observed a moment of silence at 4:53 p.m., the moment the earthquake crippled Port -Au-Prince. Officials closed down the streets in Port Au Prince, so Haitians dressed in white could mourn their losses, pray and think about their future.
The 7.0 earthquake crippled Haiti’s infrastructure making it impossible to treat the injured and help those in need. Injured Haitians laid in the streets because hospitals were destroyed and survivors remain trapped in the rubble. The survivors had little to no food and water. A total of 3 million people were affected by the earthquake. A total of 316,000 people died, 300,000 were injured and 1 million became homeless.
Countless number of organizations, including the Red Cross, UNICEF, the Salvation Army and others, flocked to Haiti to provide assistance to those in distress. Initially, relief efforts were paralyzed because the earthquake destroyed Port-Au-Prince’s air control tower. Once that problem was resolved, incoming flights carrying relief aid were turned away because the one runway in Port-Au-Prince was overcrowded. Amid all the chaos and rubble, relief organizations were able to save countless number of Haitians who would have certainly fallen victim to the earthquake because of a lack of medical supplies, food, water and sanitation.
Rebuilding Haiti is a project in progress and it will take years to rebuild Port-Au-Prince. As Gail McGovern, the President and CEO of the Red Cross explained, “In many cases, aid groups are not just rebuilding Haiti — we’re building some of the infrastructure for the very first time.” In July 2010, the Red Cross announced its expanded relief efforts in Haiti. The Red Cross has earmarked $100 million of the $479 million in donation it has received to build permanent for Haitians.
More recently, disaster hit Haiti once again. In October 2010, Haiti was hit by an outbreak of cholera. The outbreak is estimated to have killed 250 Haitians. The death toll would have been much higher, but for ongoing relief efforts in Haiti. According to Marc Ward, the acting director of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance at USAID, many lives were spared because relief workers have been distributing potable water and providing sanitary conditions. Mr. Ward said “when it hit we were better prepared to deal with it.”
The Haitians have learned that good can and always does come out of bad. The Haitians have faith and hope for the future. McGovern who has been to Haiti four times since the earthquake spoke highly of the people of Haiti and said “…amid the destruction and hardship, there is also hope and progress.”