Earthquake in Haiti We have just experienced an earthquake here in Jacmel, Haiti. I heard that the quake happened in Port au Prince, but we certainly got hit hard even 3 hours away from Port with a huge mountain range between us. I am still in shock! I have never experienced anything like this ever. I just wanted to write down this experience with the details so that I don’t forget it. This is serious. I have seen people crushed beneath their houses that fell upon them. I have heard of people in our neighborhood that are now dead.
This all happened at about 4:30 PM. It is now 9:30 and we are still getting tremors that have caused further damage to some homes and buildings. Our power is out so I am writing this on a word document and will post it as soon as we get power. Here is what our experience was like:
My wife and I were sitting in our bedroom writing Thank you cards to all our supporters. Our children were outside on the upper terrace of our home playing. All of a sudden, we heard this massive rumbling sound and everything started shaking. Being the fact that we are new to this home, our first thought was that something was wrong with the water tank on top of the roof and that it was overflowing or something. So, I ran out back to turn off the pump, but as I’m running I feel the whole house shaking like crazy, I see things crashing down around me, and I’m thinking that the water tank is not just overflowing, but that it must be falling off the house. But then I see the half built house next to ours dropping concrete onto the ground and so I knew that this was an earthquake. I ran back inside yelling, “Its an earthquake…Its an earthquake!!” Our kids were running inside at the same time screaming and crying with fear. We all met in the hall in this dazed and confused manner and simply did not know what to do. So, we just held hands and prayed to the Lord that He would protect our lives. We comforted our girls letting them know that God was in control of our lives and so everything would be ok.
Though it felt like hours, I think it really lasted for about one minute. After it stopped, we went outside and heard people everywhere yelling and screaming and running all over the place. I was thankful to the Lord that we were safe. We prayed again and gave thanks to God for protecting us and watching over us. Then, we went out to the people in the neighborhood to find out if anybody was hurt or needed help. We were told of several people whose homes had collapsed. I met my friend Daniel (a neighborhood teen that I have befriended). He told me that his cousin was trapped in a house with his legs crushed. I immediately ran over to the place where he was talking about. I brought Isabela with me while Maria and Susana went back to lock our gate.
When I got there, I saw the concrete home caved in, and stuck in the middle of this concrete was a man. I could only see down to his torso because his legs were crushed inside the collapsed home. Thank the Lord that after about 15 minutes of many Haitian guys chopping away at the concrete, this man’s legs were able to get free and they came out still attached. He was conscious as well. They carried him to a safe place and laid him on the ground. People were swarming all about him, so I jumped in the middle and told everybody to push back and have only one person talk to him to find out if he was able to move or anything. I told them that I have a car and that I could take him to the hospital. They all told me to get my car asap and come back. So, I ran back to my house with my friend Daniel to get my car.
When I got back, my wife told me that she just got a call from our friend Fenel stating that there home suffered a huge crack in the foundation and they have nowhere to go. So, of course we invited him and his family to come stay with us. She also received a call from our missionary friend Danny who runs a children’s home that has 20 children. He said that one of the kids broke his ankle, but other than that, everyone is ok. I grabbed some sheets to take in the 4Runner and a jug of water so that this man could get water. When we drove back, the people there said that he was already taken to the hospital by somebody else. So, I asked if there was anybody else that needed help who was injured. They told me to drive a little further down the road where more houses had collapsed. So, I took Daniel with me and went further down. We were stopped by a guy who was telling us to come over and help. We went over to where a house was collapsed. I walked on the roof where many others were there with pick axes trying to free a person who was trapped inside. We were told that one person had died and the other was trapped. I couldn’t do anything. I told them that I couldn’t do anything, but that I was willing to take anybody to the hospital who needed medical attention. There were already several people on the collapsed roof with pick axes trying to free the person. I felt extremely unsafe standing on a partially collapsed roof, so I got down and went on my way trying to find anybody who needed to be brought to the hospital. From what I saw of the situation, it was going to take a long time to get that trapped person out. All that we could see was his hand waving through the collapsed concrete and steel bars. I pray that this person was able to get out alive and that nobody else got injured in the process.
As I was driving around, I saw several collapsed houses, but was told that nobody else was injured. I found out that my friend Daniel’s house also had collapsed. So, I got back to my house where my wife and daughters were standing outside. We prayed again and asked the Lord to protect lives all around us.
Every half hour or so after, we would get some ground tremors which of course would cause us to run away from the house. It is 10PM now and we are still getting tremors. Our friend Fenel and his family came over and we filled all our air mattresses so that we could all sleep outside since we are not sure if it is safe yet to be inside.
About an hour ago, we had another tremor and then we heard a huge crash just across the road and down from us about 50 yards. We all went down to see what had crashed, although I already knew. It is a building that is in the process of being built. They were working on the second floor. Well, time to start all over again since the entire roof caved in and took out the second floor. Sadly, this was going to be a medical clinic for the people in the community.
Thank the Lord that my Mom happened to call just as I was inside getting ready to take that guy to the hospital. I was able to tell her that we were all ok, but that there were many around us that were not ok and that we were trying to help them. Immediately after that phone call, the power went out completely and phone lines went dead. I know that if she had not heard from me, she would have been a nervous wreck.
So, we heard that this earthquake happened in Port au Prince, but that is all we know. I don’t know how widespread the damage is. I heard from my missionary friend Danny that here in Jacmel 2 huge hotel/resorts have come down. I also heard from my friend Fenel that the earthquake also reached St Marc which is about 3 hours north of Port au Prince, and we are 3 hours south of Port au Prince with a huge mountain range separating us. So, I am only assuming that the damage is great throughout much, if not all of Haiti. This is so surreal.
All that we can do in this moment is pray. We thank the Lord who holds our lives in His hands. We thank Him that He has spared our family from death and disaster. And we pray that lives are preserved all throughout Haiti during this time of crisis. We pray for our other Global Outreach missionaries who are just outside Port au Prince. We pray for my friend Oscar and his family who are near Port au Prince. We pray for the children at Tytoo Gardens orphanage that also is not far from Port au Prince. We pray for our employee Melita and her son. It is moments like this where I clearly see how temporal life can be. We are not in control of our destiny. I am so thankful that my God has the final say in what happens to me and my family. In Him alone do I find comfort and strength. Please pray for us here in Haiti. I fear that the damage is going to be great.