Tropical Storm Grace Batters Haiti In Aftermath of Devastating Earthquake

Image: Voice of America, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

By Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer

Following a devastating earthquake and a battering by Tropical Storm Grace, Haiti’s death and injury toll has risen to nearly 10,000. After riding out the storm in buildings spared by the 7.2 magnitude quake, residents and rescue teams must now resume the search for missing people in the rubble of not only the earthquake but also the significant flooding. Still, weather and earthquake experts see more storms and quakes in store for Haiti, putting it directly in the crosshairs of climate change and natural disasters.

Why This Matters: The compounding damage caused by the earthquake and the storm have left hundreds of thousands of Haitians without essential resources, says Bruno Maes, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) representative in Haiti.

Right now, about half a million Haitian children have limited or no access to shelter, safe water, healthcare, and nutrition,” he said. “Countless Haitian families who have lost everything due to the earthquake are now living literally with their feet in the water due to the flooding.”

As storms increase in frequency due to climate change, earthquake experts predict a new cycle of large earthquakes has already begun in the region, stranding the impoverished nation in a nightmarish cycle of environmental disasters. Limiting global temperature rise before the next big quake could give Haiti, and other natural disaster-prone areas crucial time to recover, saving lives.

In the Crosshairs

UNICEF estimates that 1.2 million people, including 540,000 children, have been impacted by the quake. 37,312 houses were destroyed, many still waiting to be excavated. After a chaotic and disorganized recovery effort made international headlines following the 2010 earthquake, newly instated Prime Minister Ariel Henry has said that all aid will be channeled through the country’s capital. But search and rescue efforts were delayed as Grace made landfall, disrupting an aerial supply line run by humanitarian groups and the U.S. Coast Guard between affected areas and Port-au-Prince.

However, despite a more coordinated aid supply line and the assistance of countries worldwide, earthquake researchers say that the country will need more support in the future, especially as storms become stronger and more frequent. A 2012 study found that the Enriquillo fault system, on which Haiti sits, is becoming more seismically active and that the 2010 earthquake may have been “the beginning of a new cycle of large earthquakes on the Enriquillo fault system after 240 years of seismic quiescence.”  

As environmental groups and UN officials urge wealthy nations to make more active investments in climate action and adaptation in impoverished nations, countries and organizations supporting Haiti are taking up the helm in the hopes that they can build a more resilient recovery infrastructure. “This time around,” said Paul Farmer, a physician and co-founder of the relief agency Partners in Health, “the idea is: How can we coordinate the response so that it doesn’t become a burden for the Haitians?”

Up Next

Alisal Fire Only 5% Contained As Evacuations Ordered In Santa Barbara County

Alisal Fire Only 5% Contained As Evacuations Ordered In Santa Barbara County

By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor As California’s summer fire season comes to a close, autumn’s Santa Ana winds have intensified a fast-moving wildfire now terrorizing Santa Barbara County. The Alisal fire began Monday afternoon. Since then, it has engulfed 16,801 acres and is only 5% contained, according to CalFire. As a result, a portion […]

Continue Reading 364 words
18 Weather Disasters in 2021 Cost US $1 Billion or More Each

18 Weather Disasters in 2021 Cost US $1 Billion or More Each

By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor According to a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), there have been 18 billion-dollar weather disasters in 2021, surpassing 2020’s disaster costs with almost three months still left until 2022. Experts say that weather events across the spectrum, including wildfires, hurricanes, and severe weather, are not […]

Continue Reading 366 words

One Funny Thing: Relatable Hurricanes

Tropical Depression #Kate Advisory 15: Kate Still a Poorly Organized Depression. — National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) August 31, 2021 Hurricanes are getting “too relatable,” at least according to the National Hurricane Center’s twitter account. The Center’s tweets have been getting a lot of attention lately for seemingly describing people’s personal lives, although they deny […]

Continue Reading 202 words

Want the planet in your inbox?

Subscribe to the email that top lawmakers, renowned scientists, and thousands of concerned citizens turn to each morning for the latest environmental news and analysis.