Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Haitian Quake Impacts Likely to Trump that of Major Hurricanes

As we've all heard, a devastating and destructive earthquake rattled the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince this evening.

Haiti, which occupies the western one-third of the island of Hispaniola (the Dominican Republic occupies the eastern two-thirds), is considered one of the poorest countries in the Americas and is hardly able to withstand a severe magnitude 7.0 earthquake like the one that struck the region tonight.

Experts are saying that because of the earthquake's proximity to the capital, and because the city is densely populated and has poorly constructed housing (nearly 80 percent of the country lives below the poverty line), it could cause significant damage and casualties. Situated in the heart of hurricane alley, this is something that Haiti is unfortunately no stranger to.

In 1994 Hurricane Gordon tore through the nation causing major damage and killing more than 1,000 people. Four years later in 1998 Hurricane Georges, on it's path towards the Gulf of Mexico, passed through Haiti killing more than 400 people and destroyed the majority of the country's crops.

More recently during the epic hurricane season of 2004, heavy rains from Hurricane Jeanne, which did not even landfall on the island of Hispaniola, caused landslides and flooding that killed more than 3,000 people. Last year (i.e. Hurricane Season 2008) Haiti was hit heavily again, when four tropical systems passed through: Tropical Storm Fay, Major Hurricane Gustav, Hurricane Hanna and Major Hurricane Ike.

Despite the recent cyclonic blows by Mother Nature to the already ravished Caribbean island, it appears likely that, in terms of damage and death toll combined, the January 12, 2010 7.0 earthquake will go down as Haiti's costliest natural disaster.

As daylight shows it gloomy face tomorrow morning, the picture will become much clearer as to just how bad things are. Stay tuned to major news outlets for this developing story.