Lodi company focuses on Haitian bugs
Executive's visit displays depth of pest problems
Photo by: Tom Mishiura-BASF
By Reed Fujii Record Staff Writer
May 13, 2010 12:00 AM
Terry Clark was shocked, overwhelmed and appalled by the conditions he found during a trip to earthquake-devastated Haiti last week.
But the vice president of Clark Pest Control in Lodi was also inspired and motivated to work to relieve some of the suffering he witnessed.
"It was not anything like I expected," he said Wednesday.
"It was so much worse in some aspects and so much better. ... The people were so nice," he said. "Overwhelming was the destruction and devastation; yet life goes on, as it must."
Clark was one of 14 members and officials of the National Pest Management Association invited by the Haitian government to help the Caribbean nation deal with pest and rodent control problems.
With much of the capital city of Port-au-Prince still in ruins from the Jan. 12 quake, there is very little trash hauling service. Public sanitation, with hundreds of thousands of residents in tent camps, is rudimentary at best.
"The pest and the public health concerns as a result ... are just the worst I've ever seen or experienced," said Rob Lederer, executive vice president of the trade association.
As a result, he said, no single group can address all of Haiti's pest-related problems.
"Our biggest challenge as an industry is how do we make an impact in any sort of meaningful way," Lederer said.
While the association is still developing its response, it initially plans to focus on conditions at Haiti's hospitals and, if resources allow, its schools and the tent encampments.
"The hospital we visited had no screens. They had ill-fitting doors and no screens on the windows," he said. "Obviously, the flies and mosquitoes can come in and transfer diseases between the patients."
Rats scampered across the floors, and Clark said he was told the nurses simply shout to scare the vermin away.
"So we're going to take a hospital under our wing and try to raise the standards to Western standards," he said.
Lederer said the association's primary efforts will be to raise money from its membership and develop standards for sanitation and pest control to be applied in Haitian institutions. It will provide direction and help train Haitians to make improvements and maintain them.
"The greatest asset Haiti has is the Haitian people themselves," he said.
Clark said he's willing to go back to Haiti to help with that effort, despite returning from his first trip with an illness that left him so dehydrated he required a brief hospital visit earlier this week.
"It's a small price to pay to be sick for a few days to raise the living standards for a million people," he said. "They really, really need our help."
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