Thursday, December 13, 2007

flooding, part two

just two weeks after 200 people died in tropical storm noel, we got hit again - and hard - by tropical storm noel. official reports number only 10 dead, but in the dominican official numbers mean nothing. during noel and for days afterwards news reports put the numbers only in the 50s and 60s. once the water receded, dead bodies abounded. hundreds. and so many "missing." i don't think these poor citizens took advantage of a situation and ran away... these missing persons aren't angst-ridden teenage girls.

this time the people can really blame it on the government. noel, too, i guess. when he arrived the government and news agencies didn't even bother to tell everyone he was on his way. but even the dominican people said that if they had been warned they wouldn't have left. this time, the government warned of the storm but not of the fact that the overcapacity dam was going to be opened to prevent an even bigger catastrophe. yes, that's right - the flooding was caused on purpose!

apparently the dam would have burst. so they opened it. without warning anyone below. no news reports, no soldiers forcing evacuations. nothing. the national police and military showed up after the damage was done. people are angry. and rightly so. what would you do if there was a wall of water coming toward your house? the people most affected didn't have much to lose - perhaps a shoddily constructed, dirt floored, tin roofed wooden house. but they also don't have much to rebuild with. the conundrum of natural disasters in the third world. very much unlike the forest fires in southern california. while i feel for those who lost their homes in fires, i can't help but be angry at the injustice. at least they can rebuild.

my family has survived with little damage. my inlaws live high in the mountains and our extended family who lives in santiago are all accounted for. our street is a mess, but that's not new. i am worried about our students - mine and amalio's - many of whom live very near the overflown Rio de Yaque. school has been cancelled so there is no way to know if the students are among the missing. as amalio's high school has been flooded, it probably won't be until after christmas. nearly one month of waiting. unknowing.

since i am in the states, i want to do something. i will keep you posted when i decide what to do. people need food. they need everything. but we have no way to get everything to them. e

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