From the Field: The day after the quake

Our Projects Officer Mike Henry, who has been updating us from the field since the earthquake shook Haiti Tuesday, sent us more news this afternoon. Below is an excerpt from his notes from the day after the earthquake:

Mike Henry, Cross International Catholic Outreach projects officer
Mike Henry, Cross International Catholic Outreach projects officer

I woke up at dawn on Wednesday morning to the sound of helicopters flying over and thought, “My God, it wasn’t only a bad dream.” I was in disbelief. The aftershocks began early, typically just a slight shake.

I decided that I needed to get busy trying to help. I figured that the search and rescue teams were on the way, so maybe I could help expedite the situation by doing an assessment of our neighborhood and documenting areas that held trapped survivors. I had already seen and heard many, so I thought that I would do another walk-through of the areas of Cineas and Augustin to put together a more thorough report.

As I walked through the neighborhood and interviewed different members of the community, I had to fight back the tears. There was so much damage that you couldn’t distinguish one house from the next. Every other house seemed to have missing people inside. Some folks had found and saved one or two family members who had been stuck, but were still missing others.

Mike interviewing earthquake victims in the streets of Leogane, where 90 percent of the buildings collapsed. (Photo courtesy of Kathryn Bolles, Save the Children)
Mike interviewing earthquake victims in the streets of Leogane, where 90 percent of the buildings collapsed. (Photo courtesy of Kathryn Bolles, Save the Children)

I drew up a small map in my notebook and began charting where people were missing, trying to distinguish between the difference of “missing” and “alive and trapped.” It was bad out there, but I managed to get together a pretty accurate map for the search and rescue teams.

When I got back to our office, I found that the number of community members staying at our unofficial camp had increased a bit.  I realized that logistics would soon become a major issue as we would need food, water, latrines, and either tents or some other shelter for each of them. We were able to get several cases of Vitafood meals from a partner we shipped to recently. We also gave some of the cases to a nearby orphanage that had run out of food.

With all the destruction everywhere, it’s good to be able to start helping people. I am hopeful for tomorrow.

Please pray for Mike as he continues to work with our ministry partners in the field to help the devastated earthquake victims of Haiti. Also, visit our disaster relief page to see how you can help.


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