OPINION: Slow Earthquake Debris Removal Hinders Haiti's Recovery

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haiti earthquake debris

From the NY Times:

It has been six months since the earthquake in Haiti left more than 300,000 people dead and destroyed 280,000 homes and businesses. Haiti still faces a long road to recovery, but one of the biggest things literally standing in its way is earthquake debris.

The quake left an astonishing amount of debris, including concrete and rebar from collapsed buildings, destroyed belongings and human remains. Twenty million to 25 million cubic yards of debris fill the streets, yards, sidewalks and canals of Port-au-Prince — enough to fill five Louisiana Superdomes.

Click below to view photos of the earthquake in Haiti:

According to our research and conversations with aid groups in Haiti, less than 5 percent of this has been removed since January, and even less has been properly disposed of. A draft of the United States Army Corps of Engineers’ debris management plan says it would take a dump truck with a 20-cubic-yard bed 1,000 days to clear the debris, if it carried 1,000 loads a day — or about three years. But the current rate of removal is much lower. Based on our calculations, partially from the United States Agency for International Development’s reports on debris removal programs, we estimate that it could take 20 years or more.

Today, debris is one of the most significant issues keeping Haitians from rebuilding Port-au-Prince and resuming normal lives. Much of the stuff has been left in place or simply moved to the center or the sides of roads. Some streets with especially large piles of refuse are impassable. As a result, it can take hours to travel just a few miles. Meanwhile, schools, hospitals, businesses and homes remain blocked.

Click here to read more.

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