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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The State of Haiti

  • Author(s): Lallemant, David
  • et al.

The scale of the disaster in Haiti is hard to describe or even conceptualize. The numbers—up to 300,000 fatalities, 1.3 million living in tents, 600,000 displaced, 100,000 buildings destroyed—are bewildering in their enormity. They are also shocking in their uncertainty—Haiti is a country in which death and displacement are counted to the nearest 100,000.

Driving from the airport, my first glimpse of the destruction that spawned such horrifying guesswork was building after building collapsed, a nightmarish vision drilled home by series of floor slabs stacked on top of each other. On one drive past a pile of rubble, only a spiral staircase indicates that it was once a building, let alone Haiti’s biggest super-market.

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