Hatians Refusing to Sleep Indoors

One of the many, many side-effects of the devastating January earthquake in Haiti appears to be an unwillingness of many in the shattered country to sleep inside.  Immediately after the quake, many geologists and Haitian government officials recommended staying out of buildings until the risk of aftershocks passed.  They’re now saying it’s reasonably safe to return indoors but, according to a Miami Herald article, even the residents who have undamaged houses are nervous about going back indoors.  Officials in Haiti are stumped about how to convince them to return to a normal life…

`If you had been here and seen how the concrete shook, you would never sleep inside under concrete again,” said Achedou’s 14-year-old daughter Claire, who ran from the house naked during the January quake.

As rainy season approaches and weeks stretch into months, the same experts who had publicly advised Haitians to sleep outside are now saying time has come to go back indoors. The Haitian government, aided by the U.S. military, launched an ambitious project to evaluate every standing house before hurricane season.

But even as more and more houses are tagged “green” for safe, more and more people are sleeping under the stars. Undamaged hospitals are empty. The public hospital’s maternity ward is desolate and unused as women give birth outside in tents and even pickup trucks. The emergency room shows not a single cracked wall, yet Haitian doctors refuse to go inside.

Many residents say the issue is one of distrust of local building engineers.