In January of 2010, the deadliest earthquake in the history of the Western Hemisphere struck Haiti—one of the nations least prepared to handle it. Jonathan Katz, a Louisville native, was the only full-time American news correspondent in Haiti at the time. He was inside his house when it buckled, along with hundreds of thousands of others.
More than half of American adults gave money for Haiti relief and rebuilding efforts, part of a monumental response totaling $16.3 billion in pledges. But three years later the shortcomings of the relief effort have become apparent. The fundamental promises—to build safer housing for the homeless, alleviate severe poverty, and strengthen Haiti’s ability to face future disasters—remain unfulfilled.
Katz details the day of the quake and the aftermath in his new book, The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster.
He recently spoke with WFPL’s Jonathan Bastian on Here and Now. Katz will speak and read from the book on Thursday, February 21st at 7 p.m. at the Carmichael’s Bookstore on Frankfort Avenue.
“Corruption is a real issue in Haiti,” Katz said, “… but corruption is often used as an excuse to do frankly what donor governments such as the United States want to do anyway—which is, keep the money for themselves. And if you look at the earthquake as a perfect example, this is exactly what happened.”