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Archive for Saturday, September 6, 2008

Aid arrives in Haiti

A man unloads water donated by World Food Program on Friday in Gonaives, Haiti. A ship carrying U.N. relief supplies managed to dock Friday, the first significant aid delivery after four days without food or water for Hanna survivors.

A man unloads water donated by World Food Program on Friday in Gonaives, Haiti. A ship carrying U.N. relief supplies managed to dock Friday, the first significant aid delivery after four days without food or water for Hanna survivors.

September 6, 2008

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— Annette Benjamin tried to wait out the storm in her home at No. 113 Rue Cristophe, but when the floods came the walls collapsed around her. Neighbors pulled the 53-year-old woman to safety, but everything she owned was gone.

For Benjamin, salvation arrived Friday as a giant container ship belching white smoke delivered the first aid to Gonaives since Tropical Storm Hanna hit.

"I lost everything," Benjamin said. "I cannot stay in Gonaives anymore, because they say the storms are going to return again."

Indeed, powerful Hurricane Ike, a dangerous Category 3 storm, was swirling in the Atlantic with 120-mph winds, and forecasters said it would almost certainly bring more rain to the region over the weekend.

Any rain at all would be disastrous to Gonaives, which was half-drowned by Tropical Storm Hanna on Monday. The storm killed at least 137 people in Haiti, but the death toll was rising as floodwaters receded and revealed bloated corpses amid the mud. More than 54,000 people are in shelters.

More than 10,000 people have left Gonaives on foot, said Daniel Rouzier, Haiti chairman of Food for the Poor.

At an empty warehouse in the northern section of the city where floodwaters have receded, about 1,000 hungry and thirsty men and women, some cradling youngsters, pushed and shoved as Haitian civil protection authorities tried to get them in line.

With the skies clear Friday, aid also began to trickle in by air. At least eight U.N. helicopters carrying personnel and food landed at the peacekeepers' base at the foot of a deforested mountain. A pair of U.S. Coast Guard helicopters brought in food donated by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

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