Haiti: Hurricane Tomas And Today's Ceremony
This map warns of impending devastation. The news from Haiti this morning remains frightening. Bloomberg reports on the huge scale of the looming disaster:
Tropical Storm Tomas strengthened over the Caribbean Sea as Haiti braced for the system to hit as a hurricane at the end of the week....
Haiti’s government, the United Nations and humanitarian agencies are working on a response based on a projection the storm may affect 500,000 people, according to a statement on the website of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The nation is already reeling from a cholera outbreak and a magnitude 7.0-magnitude earthquake in January that killed an estimated 300,000 people and caused $7.8 billion in damage. ...
The Haitian government has agreed to allow the U.S.S. Iwo Jima to dock in Port-au-Prince if needed for disaster relief, according to the UN. Emergency groups are stocking up on tarpaulins, blankets, soap, hygiene kits and rehydration salts, it said.
More than 1 million Haitians have been living in camps since the January earthquake, while an outbreak of cholera has killed 337 people and infected more than 4,764, the World Health Organization regional branch said on Nov.1.
An article in the Miami Herald provides additional worries:
In Haiti, however, wind speeds won't be as critical as rainfall totals.
Flooding from Hurricanes Hanna and Ike in 2008 killed more than 800 people and the four hurricanes that hit Haiti that year left $1 billion in damage. A tropical deluge also could overwhelm efforts to contain an outbreak of cholera, caused by drinking contaminated water, that already has killed more than 300 people.
Meeting with authorities from the surrounding vulnerable regions around Les Cayes in southwestern Haiti, ... The health ministry was evaluating the possibility of evacuating patients at the government-run hospital, which is prone to flooding....
Still, the southern coast's largest city -- and Haiti's fourth largest, Les Cayes -- is vulnerable to floods even with normal rainfall.
``Once a hurricane hits us, we are in a mess,'' said Pierre Leger, a Les Cayes businessman, recalling how twice in two years mud burried the city of Gonaives after hurricanes.
``We have two canals -- one on the left, one on the right. They are blocked with trash, there are houses built on them. What happened to Gonaives could happen to us.''
I've been writing about this now for a few days, beginning when I saw that the projected track for the storm turned North, toward the south coast of Haiti. I've hoped that the Traditional Media would pick up the story, and that there could again be an outpouring of aid, this time before the disaster strikes, in time to do some good. That hasn't happened. Watching the animated tracks at NOAA and the flash and java versions feels to me like watching a slow motion train wreck.
I've suggested making donations to Doctors Without Borders and other Haiti aid organizations. I've posted these essays at various group blogs and on Facebook. Response to what I see as an enormous emergency in this Hemisphere has been slight. I choose not to analyze why this might be so: following that thread only makes my small essays seem like the unheeded, repeated warnings of Cassandra.
So I decided to call for help from my friends in the Shamanic Community across the world. I've sent emails (yes, you can send emails to Shamans), I've posted on Facebook (yes, Shamans are on fb), and I've talked with Shaman friends (you don't need Quetzel feathers and a bone through your nose to be a Shaman, btw). Consider, if you've read this far, that this is your personal invitation to help, also. At 11:30 am ET today, I will conduct a small ceremony, and I will ask Pachamama, Santa Madre Tierra, Mother Earth please to turn Hurricane Tomas away from Haiti, and if she must put Hurricane Tomas's landfall in or near Haiti, I will ask Pachamama please to be compassionate and merciful, please to protect the lives of all of those in Haiti, to recognize that they have been devastated already, and are in serious danger. I know already that others on three continents will do ceremonies at the same time. The more, the better. And, of course, there's no prescribed liturgy: each of us will do what we can, each of us will do what feels like the right thing to do in that moment.
In my email I described my plan:
Hurricane Tomas is about to run over Haiti. What do we know about Haiti's current situation? Well, it's dire. The Earthquake destroyed the infrastructure. Many thousands of people are homeless or in shelters that don't really provide shelter or in badly damaged, unreliable housing. There's a cholera outbreak. And now, Hurricane Tomas is coming. If it arrives with any intensity at all, and it appears that it will, it will create even more havoc: loss of life, loss of shelter, loss of food, loss of drinking water. Medicine will be even more scarce, and even more people will need it. The cholera will expand. There will be flooding. Unsanitary conditions will abound. Because of extensive deforestation, there will be mudslides. Roads that are barely repaired from the earthquake will again be impassable. Hospitals will again be overwhelmed and unable to care for the injured and ill.
So what I propose is that we all have ceremonias tomorrow (November 2, 2010) at 11:30 am ET. And that we forward this email to all of our fellow Shamans who might be interested, and that we ask them please to make offerings and do ceremonias at the same time, that we ask for their prayers and offerings. Together we need to move the hurricane to the West so that the most vulnerable people in Haiti will not be harmed. And we need to ask the hurricane, if it must come ashore in Haiti, to be compassionate, merciful, to spare the most vulnerable, to be as gentle as possible.
... I believe that Pachamama responds to these ceremonias, that she guides these storms on their courses, and that when we honor and acknowledge our inner Hurricanes and destructive storms, as Pachamama wants, she in turn is happy to spare others from an actual, fierce Hurricane. ...
I will make a fire at 11:30 am tomorrow. If one of you is in the area, please join me.
In my view, the part about honoring and acknowledging my inner Hurricanes and destructive storms is a key. I dreamt that last night, and I am carrying it and turning it inside myself today.
Thank you for reading, and thank you for your contributions.