Wednesday, February 24

Earthquakes and tarpaulins

Another hot sticky evening in the office.  Today was woken about 1.30am by the first earthquake I have felt.  It was apparently 4.7 and the epicentre was far out to sea.  It only lasted a couple of seconds but was followed by screaming in the neighbourhood around.  Yesterday there were quakes at 4.30am and 10.20am and I didn’t feel either.  The one this morning was followed by another one but I didn’t feel that either.  The local people seem to be woken or to feel every single one.  Apparently the one yesterday morning caused chaos on the streets as people ran out of buildings.  At a meeting this afternoon talking about psychosocial support for staff it was reported by a number of organisations that one of the biggest problems they has was rumours and misinformation abounding.  One organisation is actually writing an information document about earthquakes to give staff an explanation.

We were working Sunday to get a proposal off but did manage to have pancakes as a treat for breakfast.  The 2 vehicles arrived from SD later in the day bringing with them the new area coordinator (for the lowland project) and the disaster management advisor to work with partners in Port au Prince.  It seems quite strange to have our little group change with the addition of new people.  So we were 12 until Monday then the 2 advisors left for Leogane and today (Tuesday) another 4 left for Leogane.  The camp seems strangely quiet and deserted, but it is now just the HQ in Haiti and the 2 sub bases being established.  At the end of last week and over the weekend I think I did something like 14 interviews for Programme Managers for the programme areas, by the end they had all begun to swim together in my mind.

Sunday the tarpaulins arrived.  They came in 2 40 foot container lorries, with extreme difficulty getting them into the compound.  We had to take down a couple of tents to get the first to the lock up area, then the battery on the lorry failed and it took some time to get it going again.  The second lorry got stuck on an overhead electric cable (a broom handle and long ladder does wonders), and it had no brakes so the army of workers had to carry the 45kg boxes further in the dark – it was just one of those events that was in hindsight of comedy of errors.  So Monday morning saw me with a band of merry casual workers ready to cut up tarpaulins.  The tarps come in a box, on a roll and have to be cut into ten.  Then they have to be folded and tied to include a roll of tarp tape ready for distribution.  Having negotiated a rate for the day I was slightly frustrated to watch the speed of work.  So early afternoon saw me and one other doing a timed exercise to see how fast we could cut, pack and rebox a roll of tarp.  The end of the day I informed them of a new deal and today was piece work.  Instead of the 46 achieved yesterday suddenly an amazing 180 was achieved.  There was some serious fluid loss going on.  I encouraged one of our national staff to bring in some friends to help and to see if he could get any women.  The team with the woman on was level pegging in the lead in the morning but sadly did not finish first at the end of the day.  However, the number she accomplished did wipe the smirks off some of the faces.

Trying to organise the distribution is in all sorts of ways an uphill battle.  We have a seven day turn around in which the goods have to be delivered, we are delivering to mountain areas and trying to get some of the goods helicoptered in, we need to agree distribution lists with the community committees and give them tickets for collection of goods, find warehousing in Leogane as well as setting up the base and sourcing the necessary vehicles – quite a bit to do.  48 hours to go.  On the upside if we achieve it 1,700 will have the wherewithal to protect themselves from the rain.


1 comment:

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