Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Rain

It's raining right now. Here in Port-au-Prince, this is fourth night in a row.

Yesterday, as we drove back to town from our field office, we arrived on the southern outskirts of town right as the rain started falling. It was also rush hour. Within a matter of minutes, the water was pouring out of the sky in buckets. We had crawled no more than a kilometre in the slow traffic when the roads started flooding. Then we turned onto a side road and passed people walking knee-deep in the water. Some of them were barefoot, some wore waterproof sandals, and others wore shoes that must surely now be ruined.

While they desperately sought to get out of the thick waves of water on the street, cars seemed to ignore the pedestrians wading through the rivers. We drove inland and uphill. The flooding never got worse than knee-deep, but in some places it was flowing down the street in rapids that we feared could overpower even our SUV filled with 6 passengers.

As we drove by the tent cities which now line every street in Port-au-Prince, we saw some people huddling in their tents, others taking shelter under the ruins of collapsed buildings. We also saw dozens and dozens of boys running through the streets with big grins on their faces. Even if you live in a tent and don't have any way of drying your clothes afterwards, warm rainstorms are inherently fun, aren't they?

Everyone here is worried, though. The rain is coming down seriously hard and the hurricanes haven't even started yet. Many of the tent cities are built onto steep hills so it's hard to imagine them not collapsing some time in the near future. No one wants to move back indoors, even if they have standing houses, and there's no space to build more solid shelters. So far, most people have smiles on their faces, but after a few days, running in the rain doesn't seem like so much fun anymore.

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