Earthquake Anniversary
11:53 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Four Years Later, Rebuilding Continues, Haitians Ask: 'Remember'

Reporter Wilson Sayre went to one of several events held in Miami to commemorate the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Hear what she heard at the march below.

A 5.0-magnitude earthquake was reported off the coast of Cuba Thursday, Jan. 9, just days before the anniversary of the 7.0-magnitude quake that devastated Haiti four years ago. 

Sunday marked the anniversary of the tragedy, which caused the deaths of more than 200,000 Haitians. 300,000 more were injured and over a million lost their homes.

Jana Sweeny, director of international communications for the Red Cross, was there just a few weeks after the quake. 

"Every available space was covered with tarps," Sweeny says. "People were afraid to go back into damaged buildings, their homes had collapsed completely. There was no place to go."

Sweeny said more than 1.5 million people were forced to live in camps when the earthquake first struck. Over the past four years, this statistic has gotten much smaller, dropping by 90 percent.

"I remember driving by and [the camps] being completely full," she says. "I drive by now and they’re back to being parks. They’re back to being spaces where community members come and sit together, and spaces were kids are sitting down doing their homework."

Since 2010, the Red Cross has focused on moving from emergency relief to sustainable recovery practices. They created a long-term plan and concentrated on specific issues like water sanitation, rebuilding homes and disease prevention.  Sweeny says the $486 million raised by Americans for relief helped make these, as well as other programs, possible even four years later.

"Americans were incredibly generous after the earthquake. ... We were able to take that and program it over multiple years, knowing that it would take a while not only to get over the emergency phase, but for the recovery phase," Sweeny said. "We wanted to make sure that we allocated that money over time to really help rebuild."

However, the job is not finished. Sweeny says that even though other disasters have occurred around the world, it is important to stay engaged.

"There is still a lot of work to be done," Sweeny said, "but I’m seeing a lot of progress which really makes me hopeful for what Haiti will look like in the future."