FOX47 NEWS - Stranded in Haiti

Jeff Angileri
Sep 8, 2008, 10:14 PM

A woman from Richland Center is living in the midst of devastation in Haiti.

Elizabeth Cooke, 22, is stranded in the coastal city of Gonaives, which is largely under water. She went to Haiti to help re-grow the forests and promote alternative fuels. Now, she's trying to survive among 300,000 Haitians who have lost everything.

Elizabeth flew to Haiti August 3rd on a fellowship grant to plant trees on the nation's barren hillsides, and to promote biofuels.

They organized the project and she had some workmen working with her, said mother Lindy Cooke. Then all of a sudden the storms hit--one after the other.

Rain from Gustav, Hanna, and Ike drenched Haiti, causing massive mudslides, something Elizabeth had hoped to prevent through her environmental work.

A lot of the problems are caused because the mountains here are so heavily deforested, said Elizabeth. Any water that hits them immediately runs off into the rivers, and then overflows into the city.

Flood waters inundated the home where Elizabeth was staying. She's now living at a mission outside Gonaives, one of the highest places along the coast. For now, she's stranded.

All the roads into Gonaives are closed, the bridges have all been washed away, said Lindy. No United Nations workers can get in.

There's a lot of people who just don't know where to go, and even if they did, they can't get there because it's impossible to travel, Elizabeth said.

Finding food and clean water is just as difficult. Some people are so thirsty, they're drinking polluted flood water.

With her reforestation project now on hold, Elizabeth is trying to coordinate relief efforts through her blog: http://haitirelief.wordpress.com/

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