The sun came out in Haiti on Monday as waters from Hurricane Ike receded and a U.S. Navy hospital ship equipped with helicopters and amphibious boats arrived in the capital to deliver food and water to cities still marooned by flooding.
But Haiti – and the world – still lacks a complete picture of the destruction, and desperation was setting in among people who have spent days in the floodwaters and mud.
Most roads remain impassible, with bridges torn away by overflowing rivers and gaping holes preventing aid from moving by land. Hard-hit Gonaives, north of the capital, remained cut off by land. A Red Cross truck trying to reach Les Cayes on Haiti's southern coast had to turn back, one of many international aid efforts still struggling to leave the capital.
The death toll – which government officials said stood at 312 people in four tropical storms in less than a month – is sure to rise as more bodies surface in the mud.
Two more bodies were found Monday in coastal Cabaret, where 60 people died as mudslides and floods unleashed by a swollen river crushed homes in the middle of the night. Sixteen other people – mostly children reported missing by their parents – were being searched for in the wreckage, Cabaret civil defense director Henri Louis Praviel said.
And there was still no word Monday on Ike's death toll in other cities, let alone more remote areas.
In Gonaives, police Commissioner Ernst Dorfeuille said his poorly equipped force – just 15 officers and three police cars for the city of 160,000 – has buried dozens of badly decomposed corpses.