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Haiti 2010 and Portugal 1755: A Tale of Two Different Earthquakes

Haiti and Portugal share a destiny not many are aware of. Both countries were rocked by seperate natural disasters that will forever change their future directions

Haiti Lisbon earthqukes

Haiti Lisbon earthqukes

When we think of Haiti and Portugal a few cultural similarities pop into mind – both nations have rich traditions religious adherence and very strong minded people. Also each nations in their pasts were rocked by civilisation ending natural disasters.

Yes Haiti’s recovery from the 2010 earthquake is painfully slow by our quick pace news cycle standard. However, look at Portugal, they took decades to recover also – some may even say they never really came back from their fall.

The day that changed Portugal’s future

BBC covers the Lisbon quake

If it wasn’t for the Lisbon Earthquake, more of us might be speaking Portuguese today. This is because before the quake, Portugal was a rapidly rising world power – that was extending their political reach the world over.

If we really really look into how Portugal’s 1755 earthquake nearly destroyed that country, then it may become apparent why Haiti – for all it’s continuing problems – should be lauded more.

As a quick reminder that Portugal earthquake was so devastating to the European nation, it created the modern atheist movement (you read that right, they were so devastated, they started to blame religion itself).

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The day that changed Haiti

Haiti deserves more grace and praise from her slow but ongoing recovery from the 2010 earthquake

The January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti was one of the deadliest earthquakes in the country’s history, killing more than 260,000 people and causing an estimated $7.8 billion to $8.5 billion in damage.

The earthquake destroyed much of the capital city of Port-au-Prince, as well as other cities and towns throughout the country. The destruction was wide-reaching and caused catastrophic damage to roads, bridges, buildings and infrastructure.

The Haitian government was unable to provide adequate relief or reconstruction and the country was left in ruins.

The Lisbon earthquake and the birth of Atheism

Neil Degrasse Tyson on the Birth of Atheism in Lisbon

The Lisbon earthquake happened on the morning of ALL-SAINTS day in Portugal – a very busy period when a massive amount of people were worshiping. Churches for some reason took the brunt of the natural disaster’s impact. Some Christians blamed the citizens (victims), for not being pious enough; others blamed God.

The November 1, 1755 Lisbon, Portugal earthquake had a similar devastating effect on the country (As Haiti). The earthquake killed an estimated 30,000 people and caused massive destruction to the city of Lisbon and other nearby areas. Buildings and homes were destroyed, roads and bridges were rendered unusable, and the economy was severely damaged.

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How Haiti and Portugal recovered from their natural events

Both countries took years to recover from the destruction caused by the earthquakes. In Haiti, the recovery process was slow due to a lack of resources and political instability.

The Haitian government was unable to provide adequate relief or reconstruction, and it took years for the country to begin to rebuild.

In Portugal, the recovery process was more successful. The government was able to provide relief and reconstruction, and the country was able to rebuild relatively quickly.

What did the Politicians do?

Local politicians in both countries acted swiftly to provide relief and reconstruction (by varying degrees). In Haiti, the government was unable to provide adequate relief or reconstruction.

However, local charities, faith-based organizations and non-governmental organizations provided assistance to the people of Haiti and helped to rebuild the country.

In Portugal, the government acted quickly to provide relief and reconstruction, and the people of Portugal were able to rebuild their country relatively quickly.

How did the rest of the world help Haiti?

The rest of the world provided assistance to in the wake of the earthquake (the support from donor nations wasn’t as swift as may have been required). Governments and organizations around the world provided financial aid, medical assistance, and supplies to help Haiti.

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International donations and relief efforts from the United Nations and other organizations helped, but the rebuild was slow and still ongoing.

Conclusion

If Portugal was a superpower that took decades to rebuild, shouldn’t we give more grace to Haiti? Haiti still hold the unenviable distinction of being the poorest nation in the western Hemisphere (As France why?), it’s ongoing recovery may take years more.

The January 12, 2010 Haiti earthquake and the November 1, 1755 Lisbon, Portugal earthquake were two of the deadliest earthquakes in recorded history. Both disasters had a devastating effect on the countries, their economies, and the people of the nation.

Both countries took years to start to recover from the destruction caused by the earthquakes, but with help from local politicians, international aid, and relief efforts, both countries were able to rebuild and recover to (varying degrees).