10 days later, Haiti earthquake victims struggle to cope

This US Air Force photo released August 22, 2021 shows members of US Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) Joint Task Force-Haiti and senior leaders in Haiti visiting the earthquake epicenter in Petit-Trou-de-Nippes, Haiti,on August 21, 2021. – At the request of USSOUTHCOM, service members deployed to support relief efforts for the people of Haiti after the nation was hit by an earthquake, August 14 2021. The death toll in the major earthquake that struck Haiti has risen to 2,207, authorities said on August 22, 2021, as attacks on aid convoys have complicated efforts to bring relief to survivors. “New bodies have been found in the south,” said a statement from the country’s civil protection office, adding that 344 people remain missing and 12,268 have been listed as injured. The previously reported toll was 2,189 dead. (Photo by Marleah CABANO / US AIR FORCE / AFP) /

Survivors of the earthquake that killed 2,200 people when it struck Haiti 10 days ago are wavering between feeling resigned to the destruction and fighting for help as they struggle to cope with their daily needs.

“I’m slowly resuming my work,” Edouard, a motorcycle taxi driver, told AFP.

“But it hasn’t been calm yet, because there is still shaking,” he said, speaking in the southwestern town of Les Cayes, which is near the epicenter of the August 14 quake.

“Just this morning there was a strong aftershock,” he said. “I was outside, but that didn’t stop me from running.”

Traffic in downtown Les Cayes is in full swing and the city almost appears to be running like normal — if not for the several side streets that are nearly entirely destroyed.

After the 7.2-magnitude earthquake, residents have been sleeping on the ground on thin mattresses dragged outside their homes, many of which are severely damaged if not entirely ruined.

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Haitian authorities have warned earthquake victims against congregating in public, but any open spaces in Les Cayes are slowly being transformed into informal camps as the worst-hit families take refuge there, despite the terrible conditions.

Gas stations that still have fuel are overrun with waiting vehicles and the few open bank branches have queues that stretch outside into the sun.

“We have to get out again, even if we are victims,” said John, whose brother died in the collapse of their family home.

The young man, who is a used phone seller, doesn’t believe the authorities’ promises that help is coming.

“They could send 100,000 trucks — the victims would remain in the same situation,” he said.

“Only a minority will receive (what they need) and the majority wouldn’t get anything, because things are not being done in order or discipline,” he said.

“The weakest cannot go and fight in the distribution (lines).”

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An AFP photographer reported Friday that inexperienced aid workers who reached Les Cayes last week with food and water had to quickly abort their mission when chaos erupted upon their arrival.

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