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A year after quake, Haiti can’t shake debris

People walk down a street amid rubble in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Jan. 17. Not much has changed in the year since a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit the capital. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)

By Joe Yovino

Today marks one year since a 7.0 magnitude earthquake destroyed Haiti’s capital city of Port-au-Prince. The fact that bodies are still being pulled from the destruction shows how far the Caribbean nation has to go in its recovery.

The earthquake killed an estimated 230,000 people and reduced the country’s infrastructure to rubble. “Build back better,” touted by former President Bill Clinton and others, is nowhere to be seen. The only building in the past 364 days comes in the form of tents and frustration.

A girl walks through the rubble of the destroyed Cathedral as she arrives for a mass in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Wednesday. Not-yet-cleared debris is hampering Haiti's reconstruction efforts. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

Less than 5 percent of the debris has been cleared, leaving enough to fill dump trucks parked bumper to bumper halfway around the world, according to The Associated Press. About a million people remain homeless, according to AP estimates.

In a statement today, President Barack Obama praised humanitarian efforts to provide people with food, water and health care but noted that progress in reconstruction has been too slow.

“Too much rubble continues to clog the streets, too many people are still living in tents, and for so many Haitians progress has not come fast enough,” Obama said.

Heavy equipment that could be used to clear the rubble is being blocked by customs officials at the border. Workers haven’t been supplied with the tools — down to boots, gloves and hard hats — necessary to clear debris and the Haitian government has not designated sufficient dumping space.

According to estimates, only 15 percent of temporary shelters have been built, few with permanent water and sanitation facilities.

Construction of new housing has barely begun and officials say it could take up to another five years.

Meanwhile, a new hurricane season will start to churn in the Atlantic in five months.

Joe Yovino is the Web editor at The Daily Reporter. You can follow The Daily Reporter on Twitter HERE.

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