PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — The rain has tapered off and floodwaters no longer claw at houses, but the situation across much of Haiti remained grim on Tuesday following an autumn of punishing rains that have killed scores of people and that threaten to cause even more hunger across the impoverished nation.
In places such as Croix-des-Missions, on the northeastern edge of the Haitian capital, the walls of dozens of homes along a pale brown river have been broken or ripped away, exposing clothes, bedding and everything else to the repeated downpours.
Heavy rains began falling in southern Haiti even before Hurricane Sandy passed just west of the country’s southern peninsula, dropping more than 20 inches of rain within a 24-hour period.
And the rains have kept coming. Another front soaked much of the north late last week.
So far the back-to-back storms have killed up to 66 people and the crisis is likely to worsen in coming months. Humanitarian workers anticipate a food shortage brought on by the massive flooding that destroyed yam and corn fields.
The United Nations says that as much as 90 percent of Haiti’s current harvest season was lost in Sandy’s floods.
The World Food Program estimates that more than 1.5 million people are now at risk of malnutrition because they were either displaced or lost crops, forcing Haitians to rely heavily on more-expensive imports.“This means massive inflation, hunger for a lot of people and acute malnutrition,” said Johan Peleman, head of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Haiti.
The U.N. and Haitian government are now launching an emergency appeal to raise $39 million in hopes of stemming what they foresee as Haiti’s next humanitarian crisis. This money is supposed to help 1.2 million people by providing shelter and food, repairing water, sanitation systems and schools.