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Haiti Earthquake of 2010 Was the “Perfect Disaster”. to What Extent Is This Statement True?

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Haiti earthquake of 2010 was the “perfect disaster”. To what extent is this statement true?

Haiti, one of the anomalies in the Northern Hemisphere, being that it is amongst the world’s poorest countries. Having 32% of its GDP relying on remittances is just an indicator of the dire situation Haiti has struggled to deal with. On a scale on 1 to 10, when 10 is the perfect disaster the 2010 earthquake in Haiti would easily rate 9.9. Its dire economic situation along with decades of government mismanagement and its precarious geographic location all adds to Haiti being a perfect disaster. A perfect disaster criterion is that the preconditions of the country were dismal including an unstable government and an ailing economic situation, a large ratio of humans were killed, and on top of that the post-disaster response would be slow and inadequate leading to the country not being able to recover quickly or at all.

Before the 2010 earthquake Haiti had a bad reputation for corruption, in 2008 Haiti was ranked 4th most corrupt country in the world. Due to the corruption, the little building codes Haiti had were not correctly enforced because of fraudulent officials being paid off with bribes, enabling construction workers to cut corners creating unstable buildings with no earthquake resistance. This meets the criteria of a perfect disaster by having dismal preconditions with corruption integrated with the way of life. As any other typical LEDC, Haiti had very poor urban planning largely due to the fact that there was extreme rural to urban migration leading to 86% of people living in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, living in poorly constructed squatter settlements. Thus leading to an unemployment rate of 90%, this rate also reflects the fact that in Haiti 70% of the people live on $2 or less a day. To add to the economic crisis it is also situated on the Caribbean plate, which is pushed in between the North American plate, Cocas plate and the South American plate, making Haiti a recipe for disaster. From these preconditions it is clear to see that Haiti’s earthquake in 2010 created the perfect disaster to the full extent of which it can achieve.

At 4:55pm on the 12th of January, an earthquake, which measured a 7 on the Richter scale, hit Haiti 25 kilometers South West of its capital, Port-au-Prince. As a result of the strength of the earthquake and its distressing economic situation, 70% of the all the buildings collapsed mainly because of the poorly made structures. The final death toll was 230,000 with 96 of UN personnel killed, trained workers and a staggering quarter of civil service workers included in the death toll. These facts meet a criteria of a perfect disaster by showing that there was a large ratio of human life that was taken, which enables us to see that the earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010 was the perfect disaster.

Because of a quarter of Haiti’s civil service workers were killed, the aftermath of the earthquake was extremely disorganized which created disastrous delays. When help was finally asked for, planes were not able to deliver aid because they could not land in the demolished airport, so there were airplanes queuing in the sky above Port-au-Prince. Aid ships were turned away because the docks were dilapidated, which led to mass confusion and ineffective corporation. When Aid finally got to Haiti, there was little to no communication between the NGOs so even though more than 100 NGOs turned up there was no emergency plan to follow so they all did their own thing instead of cohesively working as one large group. As a result of the disorganization, some areas were checked two or three times whereas other areas of Port-au-Prince were completely neglected. Aid workers used the top down approach that suggested that the aid workers only had the short-term goals in mind so they didn’t think about how they can help Haiti in a sustainable manner. An example of this is, when all the rubble from the buildings were on the street aid workers, without thinking about other options, started to burn the rubble causing a disastrous amount of pollution which not only affected Port-au-Prince but the surrounding agriculture land which ruined what was left of the remaining crops. This meets the criteria of inadequate aid, which supports the argument that the earthquake in Haiti was the perfect disaster. Another problem with the aid workers was that there was a language barrier, as most aid workers could not speak French, aid workers did not know if they were actually helping or not as they couldn’t understand what the Haitians were trying to say to them. After all the costs were calculated some NGOs admitted that it actually cost more in expenses for the NGOs to get their than the quality of aid they provided. So even though aid was given to Haiti, it helped so little that there was no reduction of the chaos, leading to why the earthquake in Haiti, to the full extent, was a perfect disaster.

There were many short-term effects, which also contributed into why the earthquake in Haiti was labeled the perfect disaster. Because of all the people left homeless in Haiti, there were 1500 camps set up however these camps were completely inadequate. There was only one delivery of clean water a week which forced the people in the camps to drink untreated water, this situation quickly lead to an outburst of cholera which Haiti was proudly free from for the past one hundred years. Since the outbreak there have been 500,000 cases reported and 6,900 deaths due to the disease. This fact shows that Haiti would have been unable to recover quickly or at all which demonstrates that Haiti was the perfect disaster. It wasn’t just the outbreak of disease that decimated the camps; there were also an appalling number of rapes and sexual attacks that occurred. The women and girls were extremely vulnerable and most of their fathers and husbands were killed in the earthquake. They were vulnerable because the tents were extremely easy to break into, there was little privacy in the crowded conditions and there were no police around so gangs easily formed because they know they could get away with it and so they then terrorized the females living in the camps. Those reasons all add to the reason why the 2010 earthquake in Haiti is labeled the perfect disaster.

To add fuel to the fire, 4,000 prisoners escaped after the prison crumbled under the earthquake. Other countries were skeptical about giving money to Haiti because of all the corruption and there was even a tsunami two weeks after which swept three people into the ocean and killed them, the result of the tsunami was the result of a underwater slide. These extra events put the cherry on the cake of this perfect disaster.

Having said all the reasons why Haiti was the perfect disaster, it has to be stated that Haiti did receive help, and there was foundations set up to raise money such as the Clinton Foundation. But did the aid help Haiti enough to get Haiti on track? No, even the President of Haiti asked the aid workers to either leave or to communicate because the help was so ineffective. The only way the earthquake could have been worse was if either no help was given, which is unrealistic due to the fact that Haiti is situated so close to the USA that the USA would have been criticized by not being the “world’s saviour”. The other possible thing that could have happened was if forest fires had started and spread, however that problem was eliminated a long time ago due to deforestation which only leaves 2% of Haiti being forested. Because of the slightest chance of these factors that worsen the extent of the earthquake, that is why that the extent of the earthquake rated a 9.9 instead of a 10 of fulfilling the extent of being labeled the perfect disaster.

There is no question that the earthquake that hit Haiti at 4:53pm on the 12th of January 2010 was the perfect disaster. The criteria that fits a perfect disaster is that a large ratio of human life has been destroyed, 1 in every 15, the preconditions were atrocious, there was inadequate aid and the country is unable to recover from the disaster. These entire criterions have been met in order to prove that Haiti was, and still is to this day a natural disaster.…...

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