We drove around the downtown area today to assess where the most damage happened. We’ve heard of parts of the downtown that were leveled and that many dead bodies were still stuck inside the buildings. As we drove into the area, the first thing that we noticed was that there weren’t many people on the streets in this city where the sound of motorcycles speeding by is constant. There were hardly no motos on the road today. The more we inched our way through the streets the more we began to see a few people walking by with coverings in their noses. Not many people. Only a few. So we figured we were very close to the area.
Then we found it. Just one more turn and then we knew we were there. First the stench. Then the many houses completely brought to the ground. My heart sunk. I couldn’t believe what my eyes were seeing. House after house totally destroyed. I couldn’t help remembering how Jacmel looked like at 4:50pm on a regular day. Normally, you have people sitting in their homes, walking in and out, working in their businesses, and so on. Because Jacmel has electricity from 2pm to 2am most people don’t close their businesses at 4pm. And since this is such a festive place people just love to hang around and stay up late just doing whatever is it that they like to do.
Once you know how a place looks like during a normal day you realize how fatal it would be if anything, such as an earthquake, were to happen at a given time. I don’t need to imagine what the ground shaking feels like or houses moving in all directions or things flying inside homes. That I experienced myself. I only imagine the horror of not being able to run outside in time to save your life. With us, there was a lot of confusion. We didn’t know in which direction to go. My brain told me to bring something, like my computer. In fact, in the confusion, I even stopped and came back to the computer to tell my friend Karen, whom I was chatting with, to pray because we just had an earthquake. It is in a moment like that that can one lose his or her life. For me, that was a crucial moment. One wrong move in the wrong direction could have been fatal.
I know many others experienced the same confusion. I know it well. And I know that that’s the reason why there is a foul smell in downtown Jacmel today. Some were too young or too old to get out. But others were just clueless. I know it doesn’t matter what kept them inside. I do wish nothing did.
As we drove around we saw a few people standing by near the fallen homes. We tried our best not to take their pictures. Mainly, out of respect. Most them were loved ones. Waiting loves ones. Perhaps waiting for someone to help. Someone with enough strength to dig and pull and rescue. All before it is too late. Unfortunately, for most it is too late.
We heard that 30 policemen died in the police station.
We heard that there were150 people inside a school building and most of them are dead.
We heard that forty people were dug out dead from a building yesterday.
I cannot tell you whether these statements are true or not. I can only say that driving through Jacmel today confirmed what I was much afraid to face. I wish this was only a very very bad dream. On most of the pictures we took you can only see the roof. If you see a big slab a concrete you are looking at the roof of someone’s home. –Maria