Soaked, exhausted residents, with no other choice but to urinate and defecate in streets threatened with flooding: chaos continued in southwestern Haiti on Tuesday, the victims of its recent earthquake being helpless in the face of violent inclement weather from a new tropical storm.

In the city of Les Cayes, more than 200 people are starting to build, under a persistent wind and rain, precarious shelters on a flooded soccer field. All are affected by the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck on Saturday and which, in seconds, reduced tens of thousands of homes to dust. At least 1941 people were killed, according to a still “very partial” assessment announced Tuesday by the Haitian civil protection.

With only a shower cap to protect herself from the drops, Magalie Cadet is exhausted by the three days of hardship she has just suffered.

“Even to do our needs, we have no place, so we have to look in the streets to relieve ourselves,” laments this 41-year-old woman, her nerves worn out by the incessant aftershocks of the earthquake.

“Yesterday evening, I took shelter near the church, but when we felt the earth shaking again, I ran to come back here,” she sighs.

Some 9,900 people were injured by the tremors and their aftershocks. From the rubble, rescuers extracted 34 people alive in the past 48 hours, authorities said.

Rather “wet than dead”

To the ordeal of the victims who sleep outside were added on Tuesday the showers carried by the tropical storm Grace. The precipitation in places risked causing “major flooding”, according to the American Hurricane Center, based in Miami.

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Under these conditions, the Haitian authorities called for “extreme vigilance” with regard to the cracked houses, which could collapse under the weight of the rain.

Last night we had a bad time. Lots of wind, then rain. I remained seated: each time, the gusts sent us water.

The United States, which evacuated around 40 people for urgent treatment, chartered eight helicopters to measure the scale of the disaster with aerial images.

Hastily tinkering with makeshift shelters, residents were annoyed on Tuesday. “Last night we had a bad time. Lots of wind, then rain. I remained seated: each time, the gusts sent us water ”, confides Natacha Lormira while holding in one hand the thin piece of wood to which a torn tarpaulin is attached.

“I don’t want to go under a gallery or a corner of a wall, because we’ve all seen people die under sections of a wall. So we resign ourselves: better to be wet than dead, ”she laments.

The state does not regulate anything

Drenched by the persistent rain, Vladimir Gilles tries to plant a few pieces of bamboo deep enough in the lawn to protect his wife and child.

“My house is destroyed, I have nowhere to sleep. We need a plastic sheet to just take a nap in the dry, but the state does not regulate anything, ”plague the young man of 28 years.

Prime Minister Ariel Henry has declared a state of emergency for one month in the four departments affected by the disaster. But the poorest country on the American continent is grappling with political chaos, a month after the assassination of its president Jovenel Moïse, further complicating its governance. UNICEF estimated on Tuesday that 1.2 million people, including 540,000 children, were affected by the crisis.

My house is destroyed, I have nowhere to sleep. You need a plastic tarp just to take a nap in the dry, but the state isn’t fixing anything.

Access to water also remains very restricted in places, such as in the town of Pestel, where more than 1,800 cisterns are cracked or crushed, raising fears of a deterioration in sanitary conditions. A few months after the terrible earthquake of 2010, which claimed the lives of 200,000 people, poor management of wastewater at a UN base had facilitated the spread of cholera in the country.

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