ALLISON SHELLEY, Haiti
“One of the best views of Port-au-Prince is from a hilltop neighborhood called Fort National-- a steep five-minute ride from downtown. Eighty percent of the buildings in this densely packed area were leveled in the 2010 earthquake, providing an unobstructed 360-degree visual city tour from the crushed cathedral to the rockslide-scarred hills across the harbor. But residents say that because there was no central tent camp set up here, they were largely bypassed by help from the government and aid groups. Around the time I was assigned to photograph the run-up to the quake's first anniversary, billboards were popping up with architectural renderings of the "new Fort National" to be built. Palm trees, pedestrian paths; Miami style. Locals were told to abandon their efforts to rebuild their homes-- they would get new, government subsidized ones. I immediately knew I would start the day shooting there.
I found Orich Florestal and Rosemond Altidon standing on a slab of concrete jutting from the second floor of a half-missing building, their home, watching the sun rise. They invited me up to their "balcony"-- a former bedroom in the same apartment block their families had been living in for years. Tall cracks exposed rebar in the walls of the first floor rooms, all inhabited by other families.
We could hear earthmovers firing up to start clearing debris on the other side of the hill. But we could also hear the sound of hand tools directly below us. A man was laboriously chipping cement off of the few intact cinderblocks a family had scavenged from their fallen home, carting the blocks some yards up the hill to create the foundation of a new one -- in the heart of the area slated to be cleared for condos.
Futility or prescience?
Four months after this photo was taken, a new president took office and the new Fort National plan of the previous administration was shelved.”
Canon 5D Mark II, lens 50mm, f2.8, 1/8000, ISO 200