The ruins of downtown Port-au-Prince on Jan. 16, 2010, four days after the earthquake that left the capital destroyed, with thousands dead and hundreds of thousands homeless and living on the streets.
Image: David Gilkey, NPR

Monday marks five years since a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, killing more than 200,000 people and destroying much of the Caribbean nation’s capital.

It is also the deadline for a political showdown. Haitian leaders met late into Sunday night to hash out an agreement and avoid leaving only Haiti’s president with legal standing to rule by decree. The prolonged political crisis threatens Haiti’s fragile recovery.

Carline Lomil was one of the hundreds of thousands of Haitians whose life was irrevocably changed five years ago. That day, the small concrete home she lived in with her family in the capital came crashing down. She escaped with her young son and spent the first night sleeping on the sidewalk among dead bodies. She was 8 months pregnant.

She feared that her husband, who was at work when the earthquake struck, was dead. It took him more than 24 hours to make it back home. Like an estimated 1.5 million other people, Lomil and her family had no choice but to move into overcrowded tent camps in Port-au-Prince, with little water, no sewers and high crime. A month into their stay, Lomil gave birth to a baby boy on the floor of the family’s cramped, hot tent.

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