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Recovery In Haiti, Hospitals Coping With COVID Surge, And Miami's Crumbling Courthouse

Former chief judge for Miami-Dade, Bertila Soto, peels paint off the water-damaged walls at the Miami-Dade County Courthouse.

Tropical Storm Grace made landfall in Haiti after a catastrophic earthquake. Hospitals in Palm Beach County struggle with the volume of patients. Plus, Miami’s courthouse is closed because it’s falling apart.

On this, Tuesday, Aug. 17, episode of Sundial. 

Recovery In Haiti

Tropical Storm Grace is making its way through the Caribbean — after making landfall in Haiti last night.

Forecasters say it could strengthen to near-hurricane level strength as it approaches the coast of Mexico later this week.

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The storm’s rains and winds came down on Haiti just days after a devastating 7.2-magnitude earthquake on Saturday that killed more than 1,400 people.

“People were describing to me that almost the entire town was sleeping out in the streets in the last few nights. And then when the storm came in last night, a lot of people just moved in and are huddling into anybody's house that has a tin roof instead of a cement roof and walls that seem to be solid,” said Jason Beaubien, NPR's global health and development correspondent, who is near Les Cayes, one of the cities that has been the hardest-hit.

People in Haiti are hoping the recovery and aid efforts are more effective than those of the past.

“There is a lot of mistrust of the Haitian government. So I appreciate the fact that the [Prime Minister Ariel Henry] is trying to coordinate the help. And then I think it's needed, however, he has to work with the organizations on the ground that have deep roots in the communities that have a good track record,” said Marleine Bastien, the executive director at Family Action Network Movement, a local Haitian founded organization that advocates for lower-income and marginalized residents.

U.S. troops are on the ground in Haiti, an estimated 25 should be at the U.S. embassy today.

Recovery In Haiti

Hospitals Coping With COVID Surge

COVID-19 cases continue to surge in Palm Beach County.

After calls from Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, the county has declared a state of emergency over its rising COVID cases.

She represents District 6 which includes the western more rural parts of the county, including Wellington, Loxahatchee, Pahokee, and Belle Glade.

McKinlay joined Sundial to talk about local hospitals like Lakeside Medical Center , which have reached capacity and have begun to attempt sending COVID patients elsewhere.

Hospitals Coping With COVID Surge
A hospital staff member attends to a patient in a COVID-19 intensive care unit on Jan. 6, 2021, at a hospital in Los Angeles.

Miami's Crumbling Courthouse

In 1928 the Miami courthouse opened and, for a while, was the tallest building in Florida.

Infamous gangster Al Capone was acquitted in that building.

But that building is closed. It was shut down in July after Chief Judge Nushin Sayfie ordered the offices closed because of a bad report on the latest building inspection.

“In the aftermath of Surfside, where everyone was taking a more critical eye, we had a report from the engineers that had been serving the county for many years. And that report called for a closure of floors 16 and above," said Sayfie. "And in reviewing that report, I made the decision, along with close advisers, that it just made sense to me to evacuate the entire building and take a look at everything rather than just evacuating 16 and up."

Miami Herald reporter David Ovalle also joined us to discuss the building’s history, crumbling reality and uncertain future.

Miami's Crumbling Courthouse

Leslie Ovalle produces WLRN's daily magazine program, Sundial. She previously produced Morning Edition newscasts at WLRN and anchored the midday news. As a multimedia producer, she also works on visual and digital storytelling.