With its 90 mph winds and torrential rains, Hurricane Sandy met the East Coast, one of the most densely populated areas in the U.S., with fury Monday, impacting about 17 states and leaving 8.1 million energy customers without power. Sadly, the death toll is at over 100, and the Jersey Shore is all but rearranged. All of this, in addition to a Presidential Election in less than a week is enough to send the mainstream media into a frenzy with stories of death, infrastructural damage, and material losses.
While my thoughts and prayers are most certainly with those impacted by Sandy on the East Coast, I can’t help but think about how storms of this magnitude often impact those beyond our shores. It appears that Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, was hit the hardest by Hurricane Sandy – even before the storm made landfall on the East Coast. The country – still densely populated with tent camps from the January 2010 earthquakes – has not even fully recovered from Hurricane Isaac. This time, Haiti is bracing for another deadly cholera outbreak and other water-borne diseases, as well as an impending food shortage as a result of rising prices and crop damage. More pressure and damage has been placed upon the country’s already fragile infrastructure and the death toll is the highest for one region, with 52 lives claimed. Some of the most devastated areas along the East Coast almost seem to pale in comparison to the humanitarian crises Haiti will endure and has endured in the past 2.5 years (and arguably since its independence from France in 1804).
As Americans grappling with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy while in the midst of a close Presidential race, it’s easy to see how news about Haiti and other countries impacted by the storm get overlooked. I do, however, urge us to not only think domestically, but also internationally about how this storm has impacted those who can’t readily call upon an organization like FEMA and state-sanctioned aid. The country plans to petition for emergency aid. Whether we realize it or not, we are global citizens, and what impacts one country inevitably impacts us all. My hope is that Haiti, already vulnerable to any number of crises, will not be forgotten as it continues to re-build. So, my question is, what are we going to do to help Haiti?