Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Léogâne - epicenter of the Haiti Earthquake 2010

Map of Leogane

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Léogâne (Haitian Creole: Leyogàn) is a coastal city in Ouest Department, Haïti. It is located in the eponymous arrondissement, the Léogâne Arrondissement. The port town is located about 29 km (18 miles) West of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince. The town’s population is about 120,000.

Leogane, a sugar cane town with deep roots in voodoo and a church that would have been 500 years old in August. Within about a minute last Tuesday(Haiti Earthquake), the church disintegrated during afternoon Mass. In its place there is now a mountain of rubble hiding an unknown number of bodies.

La ville de Leogane is most known for its paintings. It is not by accident that the threshold of the proud city of Anacaona exposes the talents of many artists born and raised in Leogane. In fact the city is so artistic that the steps of students along with the noise of taxis form a great repertoire of sound, color, rhymes, rhythms, and harmony. The greed of the businessmen, the style of the houses, and the cadence of our trees always project an allure of festivity that only Leoganais know how to throw.

The city is a beehive of entertainment; at every corner we will spot a group of singers ready to hit the billboard. Leogane claimed and earned the title of city of entertainment by excellence. This is a place herein you will never get bored.

In 1663, thirty (30) French arrived in Haiti with the sole intention to erect two cities that will remind them of some French cities. They wanted to strategically place those cities so they could attract tourists and open to commerce.

After a tone of researches; they sailed their boat toward the West of Haiti where they plant their architecture to shape the cities of Léogâne and Petit-Goâve. Since then; Léogâne had grown to become an arrondisment with the cities of Petit-Goâve and Grand-Goâve.

Léogâne is both a historical and cultural city:

1. About 450 ago; Léogâne was the capital of the island of the St Domingue
2. The only Haitian Queen,Taíno queen Anacaona was born in Léogâne
3. The Emperor Jean Jacques Dessalines married Mrie Claire Heureuse Felicite Guillaume at l’Eglise Ste Rose de Léogâne.
4. Haiti’s oldest sugar cane refinery is located in Léogâne
5. Simone Ovide Duvalier; the mother and the wife of two Haitian Presidents were born in Léogâne.
6. Léogâne is the central point for Rara
7. Carole Demesmin; Ambassador of the Haitian music is also from Léogâne

(extract from http://www.chfinternational.org/)

Léogâne is the birthplace of the Taíno queen Anacaona (the town was originally called the Amerindian name Yaguana and the city's name is a corruption of that) as well as Marie-Claire Heureuse Félicité, the wife of the Haitian revolutionary Jean-Jacques Dessalines (1758), and Simone Ovide Duvalier; the mother and the wife of two Haitian Presidents were born in Léogâne.

Charlemagne Masséna Péralte (1886 - 1 November 1919)
Charlemagne Masséna Péralte (1886 - 1 November 1919) was a Haitian nationalist leader who opposed the US Invasion of his country in 1915. He had been a military officer stationed in Léogâne. He resigned from the military, refusing to surrender to the U.S. troops without a fight. He returned to his native town of Hinche and began leading the guerrilla fighters called the Cacos against the occupation forces. He posed such a challenge to the US forces in Haiti that the occupying forces had to upgrade their presence in the country. After two years of guerrilla warfare, leading Péralte to declare a provisional government in the north of Haïti, Charlemagne Péralte was betrayed by one of his officers, Jean-Baptiste Conzé, who led disguised US Marines Sergeant Herman H. Hanneken (later meritoriously promoted to Second Lieutenant for his exploits) and Corporal William Button into the rebels camp, near Grand-Rivière Du Nord. Péralte was shot in the heart at close range and assassinated. His assassins then fled with his body during the skirmish and chaos that ensued.

In order to demoralize the Haïtian population, the US troops took a picture of Charlemagne Péralte's body tied to a door, and distributed it in the country. The effect was the opposite. Betrayed and killed at the age of 33, Charlemagne Péralte took the dimension of a martyr for the Haïtian nation.Péralte remains as a highly praised Haitian hero.

Epicenter of Haiti Earthquake 2010
Léogâne was at the epicenter of the 7.0 magnitude 13 January 2010 earthquake, and a United Nations assessment team that investigated three main towns near Port-au-Prince found that Léogâne was "the worst affected area" with 80 to 90% of buildings damaged and no remaining government infrastructure. Nearly every concrete structure was destroyed. The damage was also reported to be worse than the capital. The military estimated that 20,000 to 30,000 people had died from the earthquake in Léogâne. People have congregated in ad hoc squatter camps and relief has taken longer to reach Léogâne.

A first shipment of UN food aid has arrived in the ruined Haitian town of Leogane, west of the capital Port-au-Prince, where street after street of homes and businesses have been torn apart by this week's devastating earthquake. The UN says up to 90 percent of buildings were badly damaged or destroyed. Leogane Catholic Church was destroyed in the earthquake.

Ruins of the Catholic Church in 
Leogane, a town of 134,000 people 20 miles west of Port-au-Prince. The UN estimates that estimates that 80-90% of Leogane was destroyed by the earthquake.

CHF-Haiti Blog Update, Sunday January 17, 2010 on Leogane:

* MINUSTAH (UN mission in Haiti) were undertakni g a protein cookie distribution in front of Leogane City Hall to mostly women and children.
* Much of Leogane, both downtown and the surrounding area, was flattened by the quake and unconfirmed estimates put the death toll as high as 100,000. We sincerely hope this is far higher than the reality.
* Between Leogane and L'Acul we passed a destroyed water pump that is indicative of the below-the-surface damage that has crippled many wells and reservoirs in the region. Potable water is and will continue to be a major issue for the region until water supplies can be repaired or replaced.
* The Ecole National Anna Karina, a high school in the city center of Leogane, was flattened completely. Tragically class was in session at the time.
* Churches appear to have suffered extraordinary damage from the quake, with most crumbling, especially the larger structures.
* The financial system in affected cities has been paralyzed by the earthquake. While some supplies are available, prices have skyrocketed and people simply do not have access to what little money they have in the bank.
* We saw collapsed wooden houses on stilts, common in historic Leogane, a city of approximately 134,000. Many of the multi-level Leogane homes fell to the ground after the stilts and supporting beams collapsed underneath them. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that 80-90% of Leogane was destroyed by the earthquake.

Related articles/websites:
1. No food, no buildings, no money, no hope ... and not even a rumour of aid, The Times
dated January 19, 2010, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article6993136.ece
2. Leogane: A lost town at the Haiti earthquake epicentre,by Victoria ward, in Leogane, Haiti 18/01/2010,http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/top-stories/2010/01/18/leogane-a-lost-town-at-the-haiti-earthquake-epicentre-115875-21975452/
3. www.leoganais.com
4. Leogane the city of entertaiment by excellence,by Teledjol.com, dated June 02, 2009, http://www.teledjol.com/index.php/1896

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