Because of lack of infrastructure, the relief effort in Haiti has forced improvisation. Perhaps the most stark example is where the largest concentration of refugees are based on the island. Nearly 50,000 Haitian earthquake survivors now live in tents, attended to by U.S. soldiers, on the once-exclusive grounds of The Petionville Club.
(Golf Girl’s Diary also has poignant account of the situation worth reading)
A private golf and tennis club where affluent Haitians once dined with foreign dignitaries now features dozens of U.S. Army personnel handing out bottled water (20,000 bottles per day) and one daily freeze-dried meal to the tent dwellers. The club reportedly suffered little damage but the owners closed the facility to tourists for obvious reasons. The 82nd Airborne Division has since made it a base of operations. (God bless those guys.)
(Haitian golf club had a Facebook page with entries from tourists)
REUTERS has more:
Elite U.S. soldiers lie exhausted on tennis courts and beside a pool. Fifty thousand homeless people cram the nine-hole golf course. Helicopters land every half an hour with crates of water and food aid.
The mass of flimsy tents and thousands of people lying on the grass give the appearance of a traditional refugee camp but a closer look reveals differences, perhaps reflecting the better-off social milieu of areas near the club.
Many of the refugees are comfortably trilingual: Creole, French and English. The occupants of two or three tents even had solar panels outside, charging up some mobile phones.
Staff Sergeant Michael Watson, a veteran of the U.S. military’s response to the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans.
“Katrina was bad but this is a lot bigger.”
MSNBC also has video from the club.
Relief effort organizer Michel Ovilus: “We need blankets, we need toilets, we need help for the children who have lost their parents. And we need houses. These people do not want to spend the rest of their life on a golf course.”
If you’re looking to donate to the relief effort, visit the website of the Red Cross.