In flooded Haitian city, 'Every home is a shelter'
By JONATHAN M. KATZ – 1 day ago
GONAIVES, Haiti (AP) — In a cathedral surrounded by mud and flood waters, the 34-year-old motorcycle taxi driver shivers on a pew, wrapped in a sheet and delirious from fever.
He struggles to remember the names of his four children, one of whom died when two storms submerged Gonaives and the villages around it in vile muck.
That was 10 days ago. Since then, Avel'Homme Latortue's home has been the dank choir gallery of St. Charles Borromee Cathedral, on a plaza across from a prison. Inside, the air is stale with sweat, the pews covered with the muddy clothes of 500 people with little food or water, and with nowhere to go.
"Sleeping is hard when you're this hungry," Latortue says. "Waking up is hard too."
Authorities say at least 50,000 people are in shelters in Gonaives. But that statistic hardly covers the extent of the tragedy.
In a metropolitan area of 300,000, four out of five homes is damaged. Those whose houses were spared are each taking in as many as 100 people, many of them total strangers.
"Every home is a shelter right now," says Yolene Surena, the city's top civil protection official. "Every remaining one."