Cholera Concerns Grow after Tomas Soaks Haiti

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BABOUS LA PORT, Haiti -- Relief workers in Haiti have been engaged in a desperate bid to keep the cholera epidemic from spreading after hurricane Tomas skirted the island, dumping heavy rain in some areas.

Before the storm, the outbreak was slowing. With massive flooding caused by the heavy rains, there are new worries that the waterborne disease will spread into new areas.

Rain fell in torrents in areas in the city of Leogane.

"It is as if that city can't catch a break," said David Darg, Disaster Relief Director of Operation Blessing International. "They were the epicenter of the earthquake, and now the horrific floods. It was the only city that sustained massive flooding after hurricane Tomas."

Miles away, hurricane survivor Alicia Pierre was happy her home was still standing after all the pouring rains, even though it has been damaged. She said the rain came late at night, and soaked everything, including her bed. She had nowhere to go during the storm.

With the hurricane and the flood waters of Tomas now behind them, the focus turns to making sure the people of Haiti have clean drinking water.

Operation Blessing International has been installing water filtration systems in areas around the capital city of Port-au-Prince since January's deadly earthquake.

On Monday, the team packed up a filtration system, along with boxes of bleach, and headed north to the St. Marc region of the island nation.

"She is dead," said Edouard Jenkens, St. Marc Region resident. "She drank some water. She is dead. So much trouble. My friend, he is dead. My cousin, he is dead."

Jenkens and many others have seen loved ones die, because of the cholera outbreak, but their fears have diminished since the floodwaters receded.

"It was much worse yesterday," Darg said. "This whole area was like a lake. The good news is the water is receding. The scary thing is what the water is leaving behind."

Port Kno, about 15 miles north of Saint Marc, is the heart of the cholera epidemic. With an already contaminated creek, combined with the floodwater of Thomas, shows why it's so important that the drinking water is clean.

A filtration system pulls up to 10,000 gallons of water from the local river a day and makes it drinkable. It's a lifeline in struggling community.

Children rush to fill their jugs, not long after Operation Blessing's team has finished the installation of the system.

"Cholera started in this area," Darg said. "Just two weeks ago, we were in this village and seeing people being brought on stretchers. People were dying in this village. That makes the flooding all the more serious."

Before leaving the region, Operation Blessing distributed bleach containers to 1,000 families. The bleach will be used to clean their homes and potentially save more lives.

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CBN News
Efrem Graham

Efrem Graham

News Anchor & Reporter

Efrem Graham is an award-winning journalist, who comes to CBN News from the ABC owned and operated station in Toledo, Ohio.  He received his master's degree from the Columbia University Journalism School. He also holds a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.  Follow Efrem on Twitter @EfremGraham and "like" him at