Rain soaks Haiti’s quake tent camps

Heavy
rain drenched earthquake survivors in the tent camps of the Haitian capital on
Thursday, bringing a warning of fresh misery to come for the 1 million people
living on the streets.

First light of dawn revealed the
sodden bed sheets some residents are using for shelter sagging under the weight
of the rain and residents milling in puddles on the pavement of the main city
square in Port-au-Prince after an overnight downpour.

While the rain could wash away some
of the dust from the hundreds of collapsed structures in the stricken city, it
could also worsen a fierce blight of mosquitoes.

Nearly a month after a magnitude 7
earthquake shattered the capital of the Caribbean nation of 9 million people,
Haiti is in a race against time to move survivors from the rudimentary shelters
they have fashioned out of plastic sheets, bed sheets and panels of corrugated
zinc into more substantial shelters.

The tropical rainy season could
start within weeks, and the Caribbean hurricane season begins on June 1, with
the drainage canals of the capital choked with trash and earthquake rubble.
Impoverished Haiti has been virtually stripped of trees and is prone to deadly
flash floods and mudslides.

“When the rainy season starts,
it’s not that people will get wet, but that they will get washed away,”
said Alberto Wilde, country director of the U.S.-based Cooperative Housing
Foundation, which is trying to provide temporary shelters for quake survivors.

The January 12 quake, Haiti’s worst
natural disaster, killed 212,000 people and wrecked 250,000 homes, according to
the government.