Monday marked the six-month anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti.
Some 230,000 people died; an estimated 300,000 were injured when the quake came on Jan. 12. Images of death and suffering delivered by newspaper, TV and computer were impossible to ignore and omnipresent for weeks.
People around the world prayed and sent donations by text. We were glued to the TV. Now six months later, the news has largely turned to other disasters with occasional Haiti updates.
Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive and former U.S. President Bill Clinton , who are co-chairing the Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission, reported in Monday’s New York Times that the recovery is moving forward, even if it isn’t at the speed everyone would like, and money to continue the work is desperately needed.
The challenges are, of course, enormous. Any country would be hard-pressed to cope with an earthquake that destroyed most of the government buildings, demolished its infrastructure and left a staggering number of people homeless. Haiti already had its hands full before the shaking started.
There are still piles of rubble, people living in tents around the island nation. With hurricane season heading into its most active months, the potential for another hit are increased.
Closer to home
The disaster that started with the April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon is different from Haiti’s earthquake, but the scale of the recovery also seems impossibly immense.
The spill dominates the news with images of a sinister, bubbling well, tarballs on beaches, dying wildlife and frustrated fisherman who fear they won’t be able to feed their families.
Millions and millions of gallons of oil continue to pour into the Gulf. Louisiana marshes are inundated. Bays up and down the coast are closed in a desperate bid to keep the spill out of other fragile ecosystems.
The oil has played a nasty hide-and-seek game with beach towns, scaring away the visitors who are vital to their economy.
And just as it does for Haiti, the threat of hurricanes looms large.
What will the six-month anniversary of the Gulf oil spill bring on Oct. 20?
It seems inconceivable that the leak will still be hemorrhaging oil; however, most of us would have expected the oil to have stopped well before now. The news on Monday seems good for a cap in July and a relief well in August, but optimism has proved unwarranted to this point.
Some have estimated the recovery in Haiti will take a decade or more. I fear that the Gulf will face the same time line.
Michaela Gibson Morris is a Daily Journal staff writer. Contact her at (662) 678-1599.
Michaela Morris/NEMS Daily Journal