(This story was originally published November 3, 2008.)
CABARET, Haiti -- His face, that of a grief-stricken father holding his lifeless baby girl, became the symbol of Hurricane Ike in Haiti.
But in the weeks after Frantz Samedi became that unwilling symbol of his country's suffering, little has improved in his life. He still has no food, no money, no hope.
Surrounded by a maze of hurricane-damaged concrete houses, he recalls the convoy of trucks driving through this tiny town loaded with bags of rice, piles of mattresses and bales of used clothing. None stopped at his front door.
In the aftermath of the destruction, the community remains divided.
"It's every man for himself, " said Samedi, 40. "You would think if they are going to distribute aid, they would give it to the true victims of the tragedy. They would go house to house and say, 'Here, here.' "
For Samedi, an unemployed mechanic, Sept. 7, 2008, will forever be remembered as the day the floodwaters raged. That day, he and others in this coastal town just north of Port-au-Prince awoke to nature's fury as two rivers overflowed, swallowing houses and destroying lives.
Among the dead was 5-year-old Tamasha "Tama" Jean. Samedi, who has two teenage daughters of his own, had raised Tamasha almost since she was born. She was his cousin's daughter, and for Samedi a bright spot in an otherwise dark existence.
"Every time she would see me, she would say, 'Papa, give me some money.' When I would ask what she wants it for, she would say, 'So I can put it in my box, ' " Samedi said, as the memory brought a rare smile across his now younger-looking but still grieving face.
"She would always say, 'I have two fathers: -- the father who made me, and my adoptive father' -- me. I loved her a lot, and I will never find a child like her again."
Ike was the second hurricane and fourth storm to batter Haiti in less than 30 days when it brushed the environmentally fragile country in September. And while Cabaret was not the hardest hit, it suffered the second highest number of casualties, 71. More than a third of the victims were children.
In Guitton, a hard-hit section of Cabaret and the neighborhood where Samedi was born and still lives, reminders of the devastation are everywhere. Some are as overt as the four-foot-high, light-brown water marks on unfinished concrete houses.
Others are as inconspicuous as Neva Samedi, Frantz Samedi's cousin and Tamasha's mother. Still feeling the loss, she hasn't lived in the family house since the tragedy, and the sight of children in their school uniforms causes her to break down.
Inside the house, where the girl spent her last hours, the floor is soiled in mud, and family portraits of her have all been destroyed by the floodwaters.
NORMALCY IS ELUSIVE
Other residents, such as Dival Joseph, say they are desperate for some measure of normalcy. But that seems impossible without money to buy food, clear farms or rebuild more than 1,200 homes.
Last week, after local media reports criticized a tent city for homeless families at the entrance to the town as inadequate, the Interior Ministry shut the temporary shelter and sent families packing, giving each $50.
Cabaret Mayor Joseph Wils Thomas acknowledged that the money isn't enough to help families rent a place or rebuild their homes, but he said he understands the government's limitations. Food and other aid have come to Cabaret, he said, but haven't been nearly enough.