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The Death Toll From Haiti's Earthquake Rises Amid Fears Of Storm's Threat

NOEL KING, HOST:

Haiti will start three days of mourning for more than 1,400 people who died in Saturday's earthquake. Search and rescue efforts there are ongoing, and Haitians say they just need more help. NPR's Jason Beaubien is just west of the city of Les Cayes, which was very hard hit. Hi, Jason.

JASON BEAUBIEN, BYLINE: Good morning.

KING: It is not just the earthquake at this point. You are also getting hit with a storm there.

BEAUBIEN: Yeah. We got pounded overnight and the rain is continuing. Basically, this storm came in around dusk last night, and it has just intensified over the course of the evening. The National Weather Service says that some areas could get hit with up to 15 inches of rain. And we were definitely feeling it here. It was just pounding on our roofs. You know, just right out in front of me at the moment even, there's, like, a sheet of water moving over the ground. Yeah. And it's, like, about of inch of water just flooding through there. And this is in a place where thousands, tens of thousands, of people have been sleeping outside post quake because either they're afraid of being inside or because they've lost their buildings, you know. And yesterday, I was meeting with some people at a market. I just went up to this outdoor market, and people were setting up these little shelters. They were taking market stalls, taking some of the sticks, taking sheets, taking bits of plastic and building these little flimsy shelters. And that's where they had to spend the arrival of Tropical Storm Grace last night.

KING: What do people need most at this point?

BEAUBIEN: So, you know, the government is telling us that medical needs continue to be the top priority. They're still trying to deal with basically the wounded from this event. They've got 7,000 injured. You know, we saw one private clinic that was completely pancaked, and all that was left standing was the sign out front. So you've also got a lack of actual facilities to treat people. You know, thousands of people whose homes were destroyed, you know, they don't have shelter. You know, people need water, businesses. I met this 26-year-old from Saint-Louis-du-Sud, Charles Robinson.

CHARLES ROBINSON: (Non-English language spoken).

BEAUBIEN: Robinson says we don't see any authorities coming here to help us. And nearly everybody is sleeping out in the streets. We don't know what to do, he says.

KING: Is he right? What are you seeing? Is aid coming in or not?

BEAUBIEN: You know, really, we are not seeing aid trucks. We're not seeing people distributing aid. We're not seeing people passing out tarps. I mean, as I was talking earlier, people were just erecting these shelters out of whatever they could find because you're not getting distribution of tarps or other bits of assistance like that that eventually probably will be coming in. But they're not here yet. And so people are making do with whatever they can.

KING: You were in Haiti in 2010 when there was that catastrophic earthquake. Respectfully, how does this compare to that?

BEAUBIEN: You know, every crisis, every disaster is local, right? I mean, for a small town that gets hit, it really affects them. And so this is on a smaller scale. You know, you had nearly roughly 200,000 people die in that earthquake in 2010. You're not getting that level of a death toll here. But for the people who had to spend last night sleeping out in the elements as this storm dumped up to 15 inches of rain, you know, it's a complete disaster for them. And that's what thousands, tens of thousands, of Haitians are dealing with right now.

KING: OK, thank you, Jason.

BEAUBIEN: You're welcome.

KING: NPR's Jason Beaubien in southwest Haiti.

(SOUNDBITE OF PORTICO QUARTET'S "WE WELCOME TOMORROW") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.