For this anticipatory assessment the Atlantic hurricane and Haiti rainy seasons for the sixteen-year period from 1993 to 2008 were analyzed. ORE (Organization for the Rehabilitation of the Environment) has been keeping precipitation records for Camp Perrin, Cayes Haiti since 1993. Measurements indicate the months of April and May received the highest levels of precipitation for the calendar year five independent times, or 31.3% of the time during the sixteen-year period. Of the remaining eleven rainy seasons where the months of April and May did not record the highest precipitation levels, a hurricane or tropical storm made landfall or traveled to within 200 kilometers of Haiti five times resulting in excessive precipitation accumulation during June 1st – November 30th, the typical months of the Atlantic hurricane season. Of note, the average high precipitation count in Camp Perrin during the sixteen-year period was 590.8 mm. During the six independent rainy and hurricane seasons where April and May did not record the highest precipitation levels and no tropical storm impacted Haiti, the highest monthly records all fell below the average for the sixteen-year period.
Analysis of open media reporting of floods in Haiti during the past sixty years revealed only a handful of flood-related events that reached the attention of international media. Of those events reported, limited details pertaining to environmental conditions and geographic locations were provided; however, in the past decade there has been documentation of flooding in Mapou, the Coquillo Nazon district of Port-au-Prince and Camp Perrin resulting in residents fleeing and local infrastructure damage.
In late September 2004 after Hurricane Jeanne brought excessive precipitation to Haiti, the city of Gonaives was flooded leaving thousands of residents without access to food, clean water or shelter. International relief agencies were able to deliver supplies to the affected population within a week of the storm’s impact; however, the quantity of initial supplies provided was insufficient. The scarcity of goods resulted in rioting among residents awaiting aid. United Nations troops were on-site in Gonaives to facilitate distribution of supplies. There is documentation of warning shots being fired by U.N. troops at distribution sites and the hiring of local gang members by U.N. officials to provide additional security during the distribution of aid to residents. The historical record of social unrest in Haiti compounded by the current multi-infrastructure collapse due to the recent earthquake leaves the local population highly vulnerable to additional rioting triggers. High levels of precipitation and potential flooding expected to occur in nearing weeks may prompt the need to employ further security and relief aid resources.