Saturday, September 1, 2012


Tonight, having finished my sermon for tomorrow, I've been searching for more news following the storm. I've caught up with some friends and am relieved to know that they are all right. I'll find out more when I get home.  Others have not been so fortunate.  In Haiti, the death toll is up to 24 plus a number of people missing, and I don't like to think about how many people lost all they had.

Everywhere you look tonight, there seem to be pictures of people cleaning up - and getting slammed again. Post-Katrina, post-Isaac, there's a river lock near New Orleans that might break ( One evening news article is entitled "Patience runs thin in Louisiana."  Hardly a surprise.  Given that the clean-up from Katrina has not yet been completed, I think it may be equally a sign that it had already been worn down.   And in Haiti, post-quake, post-Isaac, people are wading through mud, too, wondering how they will manage when even their post-quake tarp home is now gone along with its contents. But street vendors are back in business, as are others.  Everywhere there are people trying to get back to normal.  But what is normal now for anyone? 

Normal is getting on with your life anyway.  Picking up.  Letting God pick you up.  Friends and strangers alike helping each other.  It's not what anyone wants, but sitting in the mud, literally or figuratively, isn't going to help. And so you keep going.  This is what I see happening.  We're stronger than we think we are.

We will, with God's help.

the market in Port-au-Prince is open (photo via NBC News)

After Isaac slams tent camps, Haitians try to return to normal
By Erika Angulo, NBC News

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti -- Since Isaac stormed through this island country, streams of dirty water run through many of the tent camps earthquake refugees call home.

Floods represent the main threat, aid workers say. They not only destroy the fragile tents, but also bring with them a range of diseases, from stomach illnesses, to skin infections, to parasites, doctors here fear.

At the Marassa tent city in Port au Prince, residents feared what the storm would do to La Riviere Grise, or the gray river, named for its dirty color. After more than more than 24 hours of rain Saturday, La Rivere Grise became a fierce current that flooded part of the camp. Refugees who had been able to accumulate key survival belongings since the earth shook on Jan. 12, 2010 -- a tarp, a cooking pan, some clothes -- lost all again, in a few minutes.

...But at Port au Prince's main open market, it was clear the city's resilient residents are trying to go on as normal, or normal for this city that has seen so many disasters.

Vendors peddled their wares on Sunday, from fruits and vegetables, to smoked fish, to clothes and small household appliances. Maquelie Octavius has had a vegetable stand there for years. She said Isaac was not going to keep her from working today. "I have no fear," she said, "I have to eat."

I also read about a teacher living under a tarp, an article entitled  Isaac tests the resolve of a Haitian family man.  Benjamin has a job teaching. It pays $38 a month. He has a home made of tarps and tree branches, but the bank wants him to pay rent since it's their land. He cares for his wife and child and volunteers for a non-profit, but he grows more skeptical of aid organizations as time goes on. Not an easy life, but he keeps on going.

As the story concludes, "It's easy for Benjamin to feel trapped. He borrows money each month to purchase groceries and medicine for his children. So when he receives his check he pays off the debt. Still, Benjamin holds out hope, figuring that even Haitian misery must have its limitations.

"The only way for the misery to subside is to do things for yourself," Benjamin said. "If you keep waiting for forces to help, you won't get anywhere."

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