Horror in Haiti

My brother’s friend is a missionary who is helping in Haiti after the recent 7.0 magnitude earthquake, the largest in that area for over 200 years. She sent an email to friends and loved ones describing the scene as she tries to make a difference for Haitians caught in this monumental tragedy. Here is her email in its entirety:

I just wanted to write more details about what is going on here. You will have been getting a lot of info from the news and internet. It is indescribable.

I don’t think I will ever feel the same about earthquakes. Feeling them in Canada usually brought a feeling of excitement because we don’t get them often. After the earthquake hit, I had to fight the fear every time an aftershock hit. In my head I knew that the aftershocks are smaller than the first, but it is still difficult when I feel them. They haven’t stopped yet as of Friday morning. I went into Port au Prince with Chris from Clean Water for Haiti on Wednesday. He wanted me to go so that I could do first aid and pray for people. I cannot accurately describe what it was like but I will try. If you cannot read difficult things, please jump down to the bottom.

Chris was in Port when the earthquake hit and was near a school that went down. He tried to dig out 2 girls that were still alive but wasn’t able to without better tools and light so he came back with the intent of taking a team down on Wednesday. When we arrived Wednesday, we went saw many, many people just wandering the streets – many headed out of town, many just wandering in shock, many sitting outside on the streets because they were afraid to go inside. Lots of people everywhere.

We went directly to the school where Chris had been. What a horror. The 2 girls were already dead. The 4 story school was flattened to one story. I saw bodies on top of people who were still alive. Bodies twisted in awful positions. Legs sticking out of the rubble. Books, bags, shoes were everywhere. A dead girl still sitting in her desk. Inside I’m wanting to run but on the outside I just carried on. There were already bodies placed on the ground as they had dug them out. Men had been there all night to try to get people out. The generator and tools made the work go so much faster.

I talked with a man who was carrying shoes in his hand. They were for his wife who was found dead. He was convinced that this was a judgment from God. Another man was standing beside the school and I was concerned they were going to start throwing rubble down that side so I asked him why he was there. He was looking at some family members who were dead and wondering how he was going to get them out.

As they cleared more of the rubble they were able to get out the bodies that were on top of a girl that was still alive. When they got her out you could see that her legs were badly damaged and that she was in pain. I gave advil hoping it would help a little until they could find a place to take her. She was in pain but she had a sweetness to her and knew that the Lord had saved her and was going to use her. Another girl was rescued and her foot hung like jello. Chris saw one later whose food was missing.

You could hear people crying underneath the rubble wanting to be rescued. Seemed like such an impossible job. I can’t imagine the horror of being under that and wondering if you were going to die.

In the midst of all the horror a neighbor of the school was complaining that his car was damaged and he wanted us to pay him for it. I was angry. Some young man was putting books in a bag and took them. Amazing how awful people can be in the midst of tragedy. People are also selling water and gas at very high prices to make money.

I went to another area where injured people were taken. There was nobody to help them. It was awful to have to tell people that they had to wait as they only had broken bones or gashes that weren’t pouring blood anymore and the more serious ones had to be taken to the hospital first. I saw horrible wounds. Many people likely have broken backs because they have no feeling in their legs.

Another man there was trying to decide where to put his wife because she had just died and she couldn’t stay in the sun. So many people were so matter of fact and others were wailing in pain. Another aftershock hit and people started to panic.

Trying to find where to take the injured was difficult. Many hospitals were destroyed and others were already too full. We finally located one and loaded up people. At the hospital we found an American doctor and his wife who had arrived a week before to help at the hospital not realizing what was ahead of them. I’m sure they had worked all night. I heard a story today about some medical staff that were in an area helping and just left the people because they couldn’t face it any more.

I stayed at the hospital because they said they could use help with translation but ended up mostly trying to comfort people and to try to keep them calm and focused. A young boy was brought in shortly after who had a huge gash in his head – I don’t know how he was still alive – and it looked like blood was pooling in his neck and he was having a hard time breathing. I wonder if he is still alive. I had to get back to the school site so couldn’t find out.

Back at the site, I found out that they had quit working but thankfully they had recovered 3 more people (6 in total that day I think) and they didn’t hear any signs of life under the rubble anymore. It was so weird to be standing on the building and realizing that you were stepping on people trapped underneath.

In the meantime they had loaded up bodies in the truck to take them to a morgue and then found out that there was no place to take them so they had to be unloaded again. No one wanted to do it so we did it. It was awful. I can’t describe that – knowing it had to be done – hoping we didn’t drop them or a limb come off – trying not to look at their faces. When we got them back on the ground I straightened up the bodies so that they wouldn’t look too awful when families came to find them. Such broken bodies and faces. Blood everywhere. They were starting to smell. We came back to Chris’ that afternoon – exhausted – too many thoughts and emotions to even be able to think or talk.

As you know they believe that many, many people died but there is no way to know how many now because of the mess. I didn’t go back to Port on Thursday because I wasn’t sure what I could do – there are hopefully professional teams to dig out the dead now and to distribute food and water. Leslie went yesterday to give out water and bread and realized that with the chaos there it was better for the larger organizations to do it.

I was in my community yesterday. Almost all of the damage is in Port au Prince so my community is fine as far as damage is concerned. I realize that the earthquake had an effect on everybody. Most people have lost family members or still don’t know how they are because the phones have been down. Our hospital is full and there are many bodies at the hospital of people who have died after being taken there.

There is a sadness everywhere.

I talked with a girl in our community who saw her sister die and her mother is in the hospital because a wall fell on her. She is staying with a relative. There is a medical team coming today or tomorrow to Chris’ so if they need help translating I will go back with them to Port. Otherwise I will stay in my community.

Many of you have been praying and offering to help. Thank you. Keep praying – for order in the country because there could be riots as the people get more desperate, pray that there will be food and water, pray against disease that could be starting as the bodies rot, pray for the workers. The needs are endless. Financially it is probably best at this time to give to the Red Cross or some other organization that is giving immediate help. The next stage of building up will take a long time.

I will likely not be able to write again for a while because we don’t seem to have internet in my area but as I am able I will read your emails. Thank you for your care. It really touches me.

There are reports that Haitian demonstrators are building roadblocks using the dead bodies of quake victims and building rubble to protest the lack of help they’re receiving from their Government. Marauding machete-wielding gangs are menacing supply convoys at the city’s undersized airport and some foreign search-and-rescue teams being turned back due to disorganization and limited resources at the airport.
I think a donation to any charity helping the effort in Haiti is in order for all of us.

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