Friday, January 15, 2010


The situation is going to be very grim. Even in the best of times the overall infrastructure of the country is barely adequate for everyday life. It’s hard enough to deal with hurricanes much less a rare, but powerful, earthquake. Just having functional roads is a big deal. I spent a month in Antigua at my first medical school and it was easy to see the extent of damage that could be inflicted on any poor, Caribbean nation. Most of the houses I saw were made from cinderblocks without any steel reinforcement.

In 2008, the earthquake that struck Chengdu, in China, was a 7.9 and lasted 120 seconds. It killed approximately 69,000 people, injured 345,000 people, and left 18,000 people missing. Because China has a reasonably efficient infrastructure, further death was minimized by getting water, food, and medical care to the survivors.

I can only wonder at how the Haitian people will do in the coming weeks. They don’t have China’s resources or political stability. I’m also not sure that the other countries sending emergency aid will have the patience and determination for a long term commitment. And even after this disaster is dealt with, where will Haiti get the money to rebuild?

- Just a peasant

Photo of Port Au Prince from Global Times China. Many of these houses probably collapsed and fell onto other houses.