Here’s Andre’s cousin Joanne and her fiance in the shelter they made using a very large tarp that they got from the minister at their church. 14 people were sleeping here. When it rained, the ground got wet, so Andre loaned them one of our Shelter Systems domes. At first they didn’t like the idea of us loaning it, rather than giving it. Haitians definitely believe that possession is 9/10s of the law. But I’m pretty sure they can keep it until they feel brave enough to go back into their house. Andre’s stepfather is going to start repairing their house soon. It will cost about $4,000-$5,000. In the U.S. most of that cost would be labor with little materials. In Haiti it’s the opposite. The materials are extremely expensive, but his stepfather can hire help for low cost. He’s a builder, so he’ll supervise their work. I believe none of the cracks are structural, but there are a couple of places where he should open the stucco and be sure the concrete block below is still intact. I’m actually impressed how well the structure held up in a 7.0 earthquake — or “goudou goudou” as the Haitians call it. Only Andre and I and his brother-in-law are sleeping inside a house. The rains have begun, so I don’t know how long they’ll hold out. It’s been 3 weeks since any aftershocks.
We set one up on the rooftop of his uncle’s house so they could see what it looked like and so they’d believe me that they’re really 14′ in diameter. It wouldn’t have fit where they had their temporary shelter if they hadn’t taken part of it down. I think they will sleep very well in here. The 14′ tents are designed for 8-10 people. Andre’s aunts, uncles and cousins are 14, but they said they fit fine.
I thought they could leave up the other structure and half of them could move into the dome here on the rooftop, but they’re too afraid that the neighboring walls would fall in on them in the event of another larger earthquake. They don’t seem to believe me that the pressure is off that fault line, so Port-au-Prince should be good to go for 50-100 years. That’s the numbers I heard in Santa Cruz after our 6.9 in 1989. It’s been 20 years and nothing big has happened there so far. Andre’s uncle measured and decided it would work. They started setting it up even while they were still taking down part of it to make room. I was worried they’d rip it with a nail. They did make one small hole, which I patched with duct tape.
A lot of the cousins got in on the action. They called me an engineer because I sometimes remembered parts of the assemblage that Andre temporarily forgot. But he did the majority of the physical work in the Haitian heat. About 70 families are packed into this makeshift camp, on neighbor’s property that used to be parking area. There are three houses on their block that are completely destroyed, with bodies still inside.
Here’s another cousin and her mother at night, arranging the bedding in their new home. They’re very grateful and feel much more secure now.
The next door neighbor is repairing their house. They got a yellow tag on their house. This house with the trapped SUV got a red tag meaning it must be demolished. Andre’s family’s house got a green tag meaning it’s inhabitable, but they are too afraid still.