Haiti had warning

Two-year warning wasn’t long enough to prepare for disaster

Scientists at a geological conference in March 2008 and at meetings two months later warned Haitian officials that a fault was capable of causing a 7.2-magnitude earthquake within the next few years, according to The Canadian Press.

While Haitian officials listened, the two-year warning was not a long enough time span for any country—impoverished or developed—to prepare for a natural disaster of that magnitude.

When the 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti on Jan. 12, the country was still trying to recover from a string of natural disasters, including several tropical storms and hurricanes in 2008. The impovershed country’s resources were also already stretched due to widespread illness, unstable governments and poor building standards.

Haiti has a long history of devastating earthquakes, according to Carol Prentice, a U.S. Geological Survey research geologist based in Menlo Park. Quakes destroyed nearby Jamaica’s capital, Kingston, in 1692 and 1907. The last major earthquake in Haiti occurred in 1770.