Hurricane season starts tomorrow. And while South Florida is again bracing for the big one, nearby Haiti is still dangerously behind schedule after last year's devastating earthquake.
Last summer the still-grieving country escaped the worst, despite flash floods and cholera outbreaks. But with hundreds of thousands of Haitians still living in precarious tent cities, a fierce storm season could cripple the recovery.
In an exclusive interview with the Riptide, newly elected Haitian president Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly said that this year's hurricane season could be deadly.
"In the past we have seen how many hurricanes have destroyed us," Martelly warned. "Sometimes even rain causes us problems. So we are definitely not ready for the hurricane season."
"I can tell you that we don't have the proper (infra)structure," Martelly said. "But we are motivating the DCP (Department of Civil Protection), which has representation in the provinces, so that these people can act in any emergency."
Martelly also said he has ordered work on Haiti's nearly non-existent drains to cope with the tons of flood water already showering down every evening, turning tent cities and middle-class suburbs alike into wading pools.
"The ground itself is already saturated," Martelly said. "If we have a particularly rainy season, that could turn into a problem."
Experts warn that Haiti does not have adequate shelters to cope with a severe hurricane.
In the two weeks since his May 14 inauguration, Martelly has relentlessly toured the small Caribbean nation. But the scandalous singer turned conservative candidate faces huge roadblocks. Only a few members of parliament belong to his party, and the legislature has yet to approve his choice of prime minister.
"Until my prime minister is approved by the senate, I am one man in the forest," Martelly said. "But in the meantime, I believe I can do some work to sensitize this population, motivate them, show them that I am giving them some energy by working tirelessly."
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Last week, Martelly was criticized for the demolition of one tent city in the Delmas neighborhood of Port-au-Prince.
But the president told Riptide that Delmas mayor Wilson Jeudy had only torn down empty tents after gunmen fled into them following a shootout.
More from our interview with Martelly next week.