Haiti Earthquake – 7.0 on January 12, 2010
Just three days after we returned from a very restful vacation, and one day after Matthew returned to school, a massive earthquake hit Haiti, about 10 miles outside of Port-au-Prince. We experienced severe shaking here in Fond-des-Negres a few minutes before 5pm. Thankfully, the clinic only received minor damage. But as reports began to come in, PAP was horribly affected.
I have sent out a couple of e-mails to family and friends and have been regularly updating my Facebook page. As we are getting a few more questions, I guess it is time for another update, especially for those of you not on Facebook.
We continue to try to deal with the reality of this massive tragedy that has hit this country. The thought that 140,000 people are probably dead, 300,000 people without housing is hard to comprehend. They are still finding people alive after five days! The streets are being cleared of the dead but, out necessity, in mass graves with no dignity. People are still sleeping outside in parks, football fields, any where they can find a bit of space for fear of structurally unsound buildings. The wounded are being told to leave the city and search for medical care in outlying areas. In fact, everybody is being told it is better to evacuate the city. Friday we saw streams of people walking with their suitcases and bags along the road trying to find transport.
The Salvation Army is responding as we always do…”meeting need at the point of need”. At our Divisional Headquarters there are people finding a safe place to live in the parking lot. Next door, the children’s home continues to care for its 52 children and I’ve heard that they may be “taking in” 130 babies and small children from an orphanage that had nothing (water, food, electricity, medical care, etc). We found out about them from a SA contact in Atlanta who wrote asking if there was anything The Salvation Army could do. The Medical Triage Clinic continues to receive and treat many people each day. We got a message from the staff via Facebook that they were totally out of supplies so we quickly got together some supplies and sent them with a SA officer who was heading into PAP. DHQ has called for all male officers to come in tomorrow. Felix will be going hopefully with a few of our medical staff and more medical supplies. With food and water being in short supply, there is the danger of mob action and people wanting to commandeer those with supplies. Pray for their safety on the way in and strength for the task at hand
As for us out in Fond-des-Negres (75 miles to the southwest of PAP) , we have been receiving the wounded from PAP from the begining. On Saturday we received several people who had escaped injury in the quake only to be severly injured in a vehicle accident while evacuating! As quickly as we can get people stabilized we send the more serious on to bigger facilities further down the road so we can take in more.
Amazingly enough, Felix had just done a major shopping for supplies at the end of our 10 day vacation Jan. 8th (inspite of his wife saying he shouldn’t do those kind of things on vacation!). The clinic pharmacy entered this disaster with meds on the shelves! Who knows when we might be able to buy more.
One things I don’t think many people realize is how centralized Haiti is. Most everything comes to us from PAP. Now that this supply has been disrupted it will only be a matter of time when fuel and food supplies begin to run out here in the countryside. At the clinic, we have some solar energy but depend heavily on our 40 kw diesel generator. Normally we have four 50 gallon drums in reserve. We are down to one and Felix was only able to get 44 gallons today before the station finished. We were very blessed to have the potable water truck come by on Saturday. It comes from a village only 30 miles from PAP where there was a lot of damage so we had been sure we wouldn’t have access to drinking water from them. We were able to fill up all our 5 gal bottles.
The banks have been severly affected and our local branch hasn’t been open since the quake. Our other bank, Citibank, collapsed completely. We’re worried about the staff who have become our friends over the years. Even the money transfer businesses, which are the main source of money from abroad for many Haitians have been closed. I don’t know how long it will take before the flow of cash dries up.
We still do not have phone service but the internet continues to work well. We’ve even been able to call out to other computers using Skype.
Well, I’ve got things to do to help Felix get ready to go to PAP tomorrow. Thank you all for your concern and prayers. Prayer moves mountains and we have lots of “mountains” to move.
Love, Violet, Felix and Matthew