Situation Report - Vodrey

One of the houses washed away by the river (SEE LINK BELOW FOR ADDITIONAL PHOTOS AND .PDF DOCUMENT)

submitted by Sabina Carlson - October 26, 2012

Update on Damage in Vodrey: Post-Sandy

Vodrey is a community on the outskirts of Port au Prince which has upheld a commitment to organic agriculture for over 2 decades. A community of just over 1,000 people, the residents depend on cultivating and selling organic plantains, peas, corn, and other vegetables to local markets. The community lies on the banks of the Riviere Grise, which in normal times is a blessing to the community, providing them with readily available water to irrigate their crops.

However, over the years, the river has been changing its course, coming closer to the community every yearas it eats away at its banks. There is nothing to protect the riverbank from erosion, although the community has tried to plant bamboo in an effort to preserve the bank.

Hurricane Isaac, which hit Haiti in August, devestated Vodrey’s gardens when the river overflowed its banks and the wind uprooted banana plants, but the community used konbit to try to recover their lost gardens, and the community micro-finance systems they rely on kicked in to help farmers cope with their lost crops.

But the unrelenting rains that came with Hurricane Sandy just 2 months later caused even more devestation. Several days of unrelenting rain caused the river to overflow its banks, washing away the road, flooding farms, and carrying away irrigation pumps. What is more serious is that the river also washed away approximately 100 meters of land in a single night, literally eating away at the earth beneath people’s houses, taking the houses with them into the waters.

As of Friday the 26th, 5 houses have been washed away, and the river is closing in on another half dozen as this is being written. All of the families living in the eastern side of the town have evacuated, some to relatives’ houses and others being sheltered in the agricultural cooperative’s office. The river is close to taking out the main road out of the community, isolating the residents and virtually turning them into an island.

The community is mobilizing the best it can, but in the days and months to come it will need support: in the short-term, assistance for those who lost their houses and gardens will be critical to the recovery of the community, and in the long-term, a serious riverbank-protection initiative will have to be undertaken to protect Vodrey from future storms.

If anyone has any questions, you can contact Sabina Carlson at (for english and creole), or Hudson Jean Rene at (for french and creole).


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