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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (CBS) — On this day two years ago, a devastating earthquake shook Haiti, killing more than 300,000 people and leaving more than a million homeless.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Felicia Middlebrooks reports, poverty and homelessness are two of the biggest challenges Haitians face two years later.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Felicia Middlebrooks reports
Two weeks after the 2010 earthquake, WBBM Newsradio was on the ground amid the chaos. You could smell death everywhere.
Two years later, we talked to an expert on the ground.
Some say in much of Haiti, it appears as though the earthquake hit two months ago, not two years ago, Nigel Fisher, United Nations development and humanitarian coordinator in Haiti, takes issue with that assessment.
“I would dispute anyone saying that not much has happened,” Fisher said. “I think a lot has happened.”
At one point, 1.5 million people were living in camps.
“If you look around town now, a lot of sites that had camps in them are now empty; about a million people have left the camps,” he said.
Many Haitians are now transitioning to permanent homes, Fisher said.
“We estimate about 30,000 houses are being built or repaired, and a lot of the international organizations have been building what we call transitional shelters,” he said.
But cholera took recovery workers by surprise, and added to the challenges.
“There are still many cases in the coming year,” he said. “If one can take any comfort, the infection rate has gone way down, and also even more important, the mortality rate has gone down.”
The one-two punch of a Cholera epidemic and poverty means recovery efforts will have to be in place for many years to come.
But while Haitians are still suffering, they know what they need.
“When you ask Haitians in camps – the poor Haitians – what they need, they don’t say, ‘Give me a handout,’” Fisher said. “They say, ‘I’d like a job.’”