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History Sample Essay on 2010 Haiti Earthquake

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History Sample Essay on 2010 Haiti Earthquake


            The main aim of writing this paper is to analyse the 2010 Haiti earthquake. This paper gives a description of the earthquake as well as the geology of Haiti. The paper also looks into the aftershocks that were experienced as a result of the 2010 Haiti Earthquake. It discusses further the Tsunami it triggered that brought about a lot of negative effects. The paper analyses the destruction caused on infrastructure as a result of the Earthquake and the conditions that were experienced after the Earthquake. Casualties that occurred during the quake are also discussed in the paper.Finally, the paper describes the recovery of Haiti from the Earthquake years later.


            The Haiti Earthquake occurred on 12th January 2010 which was a large scale earthquake experienced in Hispaniola, an island found in the West Indian. This island is made of two Countries that is Haiti and the Dominican Republic. (Katz, 2013).  Although both countries were affected the effects found in Haiti were severe since it occupies mostly the western side of the Island. Many people lost their lives with a death poll of more than 300,000 people. (‘Haiti earthquake of 2010,’2016).The people who survived the earthquake were displaced. The Hispaniola Island which is occupied by the Dominican Republic and Haiti is active seismically and has had antecedents of earthquakes that are highly destructive. (Katz, 2013).  When Haiti was a colony of the French the Earthquakes that occurred were recorded by Moreau de saint mery, a French Historian. (‘Haiti earthquake of 2010,’2016).

            Giving a description of the earthquake the Historian wrote that in the 1751 Earthquake there was only one building that did not collapse at the Port au prince since the whole city was brought down by the Earthquake. (Laferrière, 2013). Theneighbouring towns were also brought down by the 7th May 1842 earthquake that is the town of Cap Haitienand towns found north of Dominican and Haiti republics. Being the poorest country inthe western Hemisphere, Haiti lies at the 149th position out of the 182 countries that are ranked by the Human Development Index.

            The 2010 Haiti earthquake occurred on 12th January at 16:53.It had a depth of 13 Km, magnitude 7.0Mw and stretched approximately 25 Km from Port auprince. According to Geological, seismological and ground deformation data there was no surfacerupture as well as main Enriquillo fault lateral slips. (‘Earthquake Information for 2010’, 2016).  The strong shaking of the earthquake was mainly recorded in the suburbs of Port a prince and Port au prince itself. These shakings are usually associated and connected to the Modified Mercalli scale. The Earthquake was also experienced in the neighbouring countries and regions such as Jamaica, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Venezuela. (‘Earthquake Information for 2010’, 2016).

             Damages that the 2010 Haiti earthquake caused were notably more severe as compared to other previous Earthquakes. The occurrence of the earthquake was experienced in the surrounding areas of the boundary found in the northern region where the tectonics plates in the Caribbean island usually slide eastwards every year against the plate found in the North American region. (Winerman, 2016).

            There were eight aftershocks experienced according to the United States Geological survey. This was hours after the main earthquake occurred and they had a magnitude of 4.0 and 6.0. (Winerman, 2016).There were greater recordings of aftershocks within the first eight hours and they had a magnitude recording 4.2 Mw and above. (‘Eight days after Haiti quake: More survivors, 5.9 aftershock –’, 2016). 12 of the aftershocks that were recorded had a measurement of 5.0.According to a report by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) 52 aftershocks had occurred with a measurement of 4.5Mw and above. (‘Eight days after Haiti quake: More survivors, 5.9 aftershock –’, 2016).  The strongest and greatest aftershock that was recorded had a measurement of 5.9 Mw and it struck the country on January 20th.The Epicenter of this aftershock as explained by the USGS was approximately 56 Km. (Penna, & Rivers, 2013). A report by a UN representative stated that seven buildings were collapsed in one of the towns found in Haiti. The international Committee of the Red Cross staff that had toured the petite Goave for the first time reported that 15 percent of the buildings found in the town collapsed before the aftershock.

             They reported that there were supplies’ shortage as well as medical care. Other reports from workers in the Save the Children, a charity foundation in Haiti, there were sounds of collapsing buildings that were already weakened but other sources reported that there were minimal damages on buildings as well as casualties because people slept in the open. However, there are feelings that the earthquake that occurred was a beginning of a sequence that would last for a long time. This is also attributed to the history of earthquakes since 1751 which have progressively been moving westwards.

            The 2010 Earthquake that occurred in Haiti also triggered a Tsunami. After the Earthquake there was a warning of a Tsunami which was issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre but it hastily cancelled the warning. (Lovett, 2010). Despite the cancellation, there was a report that a Tsunami had been experienced in a fishing town, Petit Paradis. This Tsunami was consequently caused by sliding of the underwater. Researchers later confirmed the reports. (Lovett, 2010). According to witnesses, there was sudden ‘withdrawal’ of water then a sudden surge of the waves to the shores. (Shaw, 2015). These strong waves swept many fishing vessels.           Consequently, the Haiti earthquake triggered two Tsunamis as it was reported in a meeting by scientists in Portland. Herman Fritz was the first person to discover the Earthquake. The Georgia Institute of technology Engineer had spent many days in Haiti getting information from aid workers and fishermen. Fritz visited the Jacmel town where he identified boulders and boats swept ashore by water. (Lovett, 2010). A tsunami also struck the Bay of Port au prince which was seemingly believed to have been brought about by landslides in the underwater. Changes were evident in the coast according to photos and satellite images. One director of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Pacific Maritime Environmental Laboratory found in Seattle, Eddie Bernard reported that the earthquake might not have been restrained in the main fault. (Lovett, 2010).

            The Haiti earthquake led to a lot of effects and brought about adverse impacts. For instance, there was a high record on human impacts in the country that is hit by a wave of poverty.1.5 Million people which represent a quarter of the population was greatly affected. An estimate of 200,000 lives was lost while more than 300,000 people were got injuries. Many people were left in need of support psychologically as well as supervision.A population of 1.3 million people is living in makeshift shelters in the metropolitan area of the Port au prince with more than 500,000 people leaving the disaster regions. The inflow of people in the regions that are not affected by the earthquake has resulted in difficulties in access to basic services and food. The Earthquake struck the main part of the Haitian Economy thus bringing about acute effects to institutional and human capacity. The private sectors, international bodies as well as Non-Governmental organisations were also affected.


Infrastructure was also affected massively. More than 105,000 homes were destroyed completely with other more than 208,000 getting damages. (‘The Haiti earthquake damage to hospitals and health care infrastructure’, 2010). More than 1300 educational institutions and more than 50 health centres and hospitals were also destroyed. Some have been completely damaged while others are unusable. For instance, there was thedestruction of the Medecins Sans Frontier’s facilities for medical care in Port a prince. One of the centres was completely destroyed. (‘The Haiti earthquake damage to hospitals and health care infrastructure’, 2010).  In Petionville, a hospital was completely destroyed as well as the St Michel District hospital, the largest referral hospital located in the town of Jacmel. The control tower at the Toussaint L’Ouverture International Airport was also seriously destroyed by the earthquake. At the Port au Prince Seaport, the harbour was rendered useless and it was very difficult to go on with the rescue operations.


             The container crane in the seaport was also damaged as it fell because of very weak foundations. Debris blocked off roads and some road surfaces were broken. The Port au prince road linking Jacmel was blocked as a result of the earthquake ten days later. This hampered transportation of supplies as well as rescue teams to Jacmel. Communication infrastructure was seriously damaged by the earthquake with the Public telephone system being unavailable. (Singh, & Zommers, 2014).  Digicel and Comcel Haiti, two large telephone service providers in Haiti also gave reports of their services getting seriously affected by the earthquake. Connections of the Fibre optic cables were destroyed. Radio Lumiere, a radio station in Haiti that covered about 90 percent of Haiti was greatly affected by the quake that completely threw it out of broadcasting but fortunately, it was able to get back to form in a week. (Singh, & Zommers, 2014).  As estimated by Jean –Max Belle rive, the Haitian Prime minister that more than 250,000 residential houses and 30 commercial buildings were adversely affected by the earthquake and required demolishing. Many government buildings were brought down as well as public buildings.For instance, the National assembly, Palace of Justice, Port au Prince Cathedral and the Supreme Court were destroyed. (Plevris, 2012).The Civile port au Prince, a prison in Haiti was also damaged and this led to theescape of close to 4000 inmates. The Municipal buildings at Port au Prince were also damaged inclusive of the city hall. During that time Port au Prince had no petrol reserves for the municipal and that there were only very few working phones owned by the city officials. This hampered transportation and communications greatly. (Plevris, 2012).


            There was a statement by the Minister of Education, Joel-Jean Pierre that there was a total collapse of the education system since many schools, universities and colleges had been destroyed. The Nursing school found in the capital of Haiti was destroyed as well as the midwifery primary school. Damages were also noted in the Haitian Art world, with artworks perishing in the earthquake and Art galleries getting destroyed. (NoAuthorFound, 2013). The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti headquarters were also brought down by the earthquake with the World Bank losing its offices to the quake. (NoAuthorFound, 2013). One of the main heart of Haiti’s exports, the clothing industry also perished with reports of structural damages on the plants facilities. There was theformation of a landslide on Riviere de Grand Goave whereby the water level was noted to be low in February 2010.


            The aftermath of the Earthquake was very saddening and heartbreaking among the Haitians. After the Earthquake many people were forced to spend their nights on the streets and pavements. Others would make makeshift shelters in the shanty towns for some reasons, either, because their houses had been damaged or they were in fear of houses collapsing on them at night while they were asleep. (Albert, Werhane, & Rolph, 2014).  Following the low standards of construction in Haiti and failure of the country to develop building codes many Engineers have stated that many buildings would have withstood the earthquake were it not for weak standards and lack of building codes. (Brebbia, 2013). Notably many structures and buildings are built where they are able to fit regardless of any hazardous effects that they have or else the danger they may expose people to. (Albert, Werhane, & Rolph, 2014).   Buildings are erected on slopes with many bearing very weak foundations and also some lacking support from the steel bars. Estimations done by the Catholic Relief Services indicate that close to two million Haitians live as squatters. The country also faced the problem of fuel and water shortages prior to the Earthquake. (Lies, 2011).


            During the Earthquake the police Headquarters were used as administrative centres by President Preval and other government ministers. The effectiveness of their operations was however very limited with some of the government officials still trapped and held back by the debris in the presidential palace as well as thedestruction of the official documents belonging to the government. Officials bearing high ranks in the Government also lost members from their families or they were busy tending on relatives who were wounded. (Lies, 2011). Despite holding routine meetings with the UN planners, there was bewilderment between the UN and the president on who to take in charge of the situation. The United States was given authority to quickly deal with flight operations that had been destroyed hampering rescue teams from other accessing Haiti. (Katz, 2013).


            The Dominican Republic towns found on the eastern side began a preparation to receive the large populations of refugees and by January 16th most of the hospitals and health centres were flooded with Haitians. Some medical centres gave reports of running out of stock of the medical supplies especially antibiotics the next day. The Dominican soldiers reinforced the borders with the government of Dominican Republic issuing a notice that the Haitians who had been allowed into the country would only live temporality. (Katz, 2013).


            Sporadic violence erupted due to limited supplies of resources and people started to loot. According to Dr Evan Lyon the reports that were issued in regards to violence were overblown and misinterpreted thus aid agencies and medical suppliers were warned against accessing Haiti thus leading to shortages of medical and other supplies. (‘Update on Rescue and Relief Efforts in Haiti’, 2010).


            There were massive casualties during the Haitian Earthquake and most of the people who were affected were the Haitians. Other people who were affected include the Aid workers, foreign tourists, embassy staff and some governmental officials. (Farmer, Gardner, Holstein, & Mukherjee, 2012). Well, known Haitian musicians also perished in the disaster as well as sports figures where thirty members belonging to the Federation Haitienne de Football died. Personnel who were working for the United Nations (MINUSTAH) also died during the earthquake. Among those who died in the earthquake working for the UN was the head of missions, Hedi Annabi who together with his deputy perished. Collapse and destruction of the Hotel Montana claimed lives of 200 guests. (Farmer, Gardner, Holstein, & Mukherjee, 2012)

            The death toll according to an unpublished report was recorded at 46,000 and 85,000 while the number of the people who were displaced was recorded at 895,000. (‘Haiti Earthquake Facts and Figures’, 2015). From the total number of displaced people only 375,000 were able to secure temporary shelters. The data from this report was acquired through thedoor to door surveys and was conducted by LTL strategies, a Washington consulting firm. (‘Haiti Earthquake Facts and Figures’, 2015).The information in the unpublished report was, however, questionable and according to a US state Department spokesperson, the report was inconsistent. According to USAID, the total number of people displaced was 1.5 Million whereby 550,000 live in temporary shelters. (Zadeh, 2014).The estimate by theUniversity of Michigan Study seems to be the most reliable source of the correct estimate of death poll that is 160,000. (Zadeh, 2014).


            However hard the country was hit it is slowly emerging and reconstructing its economy. There has been a rebound of Port au Prince taking into consideration that its roads ,airport and seaports were hardly functional or unusable which made it difficult for personnel and aid teams to access. The sudden collapse of the public health infrastructure, as well as political systems and other sectors which were engulfed by endemic corruption, created an even unbearable situation among the Haitians. (Brebbia, 2013). The situation in Haiti during that time was described as overwhelming by UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon. The Billions of dollars aid that had been pledged by many countries may never help rebuild the country fully or make people feel its impact. (‘Update on Rescue and Relief Efforts in Haiti’, 2010).


            According to the UN new action plan about 70% of the Haiti, people are unable to access electricity while 600,000 people face food shortages. However, the number of people living in the displacement camps is considerably low with the number declining from 1.5 Million to at least 172,000. (Shaw, 2015). Unfortunately, these people are faced with water shortages, waste and sanitation disposal. (‘Update on Rescue and Relief Efforts in Haiti’, 2010).

            The numerous camps are very prone to flooding during the seasons for Hurricane according to claims by Amnesty International. Investment and Foreign aid are the main props for the Haiti economy. Many people rely on farming for a living despite the turbulent weather and the poor poli8cires that are adopted in Haiti. There had been a poor harvest in 2013 because of the effects brought about by constant Hurricanes and the daring drought. This constantly puts the country in Food insecurity Crisis. (Albert, Werhane, & Rolph, 2014).

            The country is still fighting the deadly Cholera Epidemic with the aid it receives from the UN peacekeepers. It takes a lot of concerted efforts and unwavering commitment to rebuilding a city or a country. Though resilient, Haitians have for the last 4 years shown a lot of commitment towards building their country. (Albert, Werhane, & Rolph, 2014).












Albert, P., Werhane, P. & Rolph, T. (2014). Global poverty alleviation: a casebook. Dordrecht: Springer.

Brebbia, C. (2013). Risk analysis. Southampton: WIT Press.

Earthquake Information for 2010. (2016). Retrieved 13 July 2016, from             

Eight days after Haiti quake: More survivors, 5.9 aftershock – (2016). Retrieved 13 July 2016, from          Farmer, P., Gardner, A., Holstein, C. & Mukherjee, J. (2012). Haiti after the earthquake. New       York: PublicAffairs.

The Haiti earthquake damage to hospitals and health care infrastructure. (2010).   Retrieved 13 July 2016, from         damage-hospitals-health-care-infrastructure.html

Haiti Earthquake Facts and Figures. (2015). Disasters Emergency Committee. Retrieved 13 July 2016,     from 


Haiti earthquake of 2010. (2016). Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 13 July 2016, from             


Katz, J. (2013). The big truck that went by how the world came to save Haiti and left behind a       disaster. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Laferrière, D. (2013). The world is moving around me: a memoir of the Haiti earthquake. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press.

Lies, A. (2011). The earthquake in Haiti. Edina, Minn: ABDO Pub.

Lovett, R. (2010). Haiti earthquake produced adeadly tsunami. Nature.      


NoAuthorFound. (2013). Haiti constitution and citizenship law handbook: strategic information    and developments. Washington, DC: International Business Publications, USA.

Penna, A. & Rivers, J. (2013). Natural Disasters in a Global Environment. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.

Plevris, V. (2012). Structural seismic design optimisation and earthquake engineering        formulations and applications. Hershey, PA: Engineering Science Reference.

Shaw, R. (2015). Recovery from the Indian Ocean tsunami: a ten-year journey. Tokyo:      Springer.

Singh, A. & Zommers, Z. (2014). Reducing disaster: early warning systems for climate change.     Berlin: Springer.


Schuller, M. & Morales, P. (2012). Tectonic shifts: Haiti since the earthquake. Sterling, Va:            Kumarian Press.

Update on Rescue and Relief Efforts in Haiti. (2010). DipNote. Retrieved 13 July 2016, from             


Winerman, L. (2016). Scientists Explain Geology of Haiti Earthquake. PBS News Hour.     Retrieved 13 July 2016, from

Zadeh, A. (2014). Extreme natural hazards, disaster risks and societal implications. New York: Cambridge             University Press.

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