Thursday, January 14, 2010

The day after the day after

It's probably more frustrating being in the country right now rather than back in Canada. Digicel phones are still not working so there is no communication. We haven't had any EDH (electricity) so we are relying on generators and batteries. Diesel prices are already rising and will continue to rise as resources dwindle (it all comes from Port).

The 3 clinic staff who went to Port right after the quake have returned with the person they were looking for. I'm not sure if he was injured or not. Dr. Manno left for Port this morning to find another person from the community that they were unable to find.

As far as we know, the airport in Cap Haitien is operational and the team of 4 Americans that were supposed to leave on Monday will be flying back to Florida this morning. Dr. Steve and Nancy are also scheduled to return from the States this morning.

The past day and a half have been surreal. At 5 on Tuesday, I had just started my Creole class with my tutor. The building started to shake and my first though was that a big truck or train was going by. That's what it sounded like anyways. Then I remembered where I was and that there were no big trucks or trains to go by and that it was an earthquake. The desks in the classroom didn't move, but we just kind of rocked back and forth for about 10 or 15 seconds. It ended and we resumed our class. A few minutes later, someone told us that it was worse in Port au Prince, but we had no idea of how bad.

I finished my class, went home to eat supper. Surprisingly, the EDH came on so I decided to watch a movie on my laptop because I did not want to go out in the rain again. That last for about an hour, then the power went out so I shut off my computer and tried to go to sleep. Around 9, Dr. Manno came up and told me that Port au Prince was destroyed. He said to "sleep" with the doors open so that I could get out quickly. He then said he was going over to the University to watch the news. I decided to go with him. Once there, I was able to call my family on a satellite phone to reassure them that I was okay. The cellphone network was down.

We watched the news for awhile - there were only a few images coming in cause it happened so close sundown. We returned home and decided not to sleep in the main house under the concrete roof. Instead, we all (about 12 of us) moved mattresses to a room in the house that is being built behind the main house that has a corrugated metal roof. It was like a big slumber party - girls on one side, guys on the other - only I couldn't understand all the Creole chatter.

I slept on and off through the night with my MP3 player going to drown out the sound of the rain on the metal roof. We woke up around 7, moved everything inside and started our day. There had been several aftershocks during the night.

As soon as I had showered (a very cold shower) and eaten breakfast I headed over to the James' to get online and check emails, Facebook and just try to get some news coverage.  There were tons of messages to reply to and I was able to Skype with friends and family at home.

I pulled myself away from the computer later in the afternoon in order to do my Creole homework and go to class. After supper, we went to watch the news again. I'm kind of glad that I don't have access to CNN all day. I think the reporters would drive me crazy. It's amazing how ignorant people are of the realities of Haiti, pre-earthquake. I just wonder how long the attention will last on this country - probably not long enough, I fear. After the recovery effort is finished, reconstruction is going to take years.

It was a weird day here. Life just kind of went on for most people. Most people don't have a radio so they haven't heard any news. They definitely haven't seen any of the pictures and they haven't been able to communicate by phone. Everyone is sad, but I don't know if anyone can really comprehend just how bad it really is. I think it will take several days, weeks even to know what this all means.


Hatey Katy said...

Hi Janelle.

I'm a reporter with News Talk Radio in Saskatoon, SK. I spoke with your Dad and he pointed me to your blog.

I was hoping to speak with you somehow and talk about the things you are writing about. What you are seeing ... what people are seeing ... and how you say people don't yet know the true extent of the damage.

You would know better than I would the best way to communicate ... phone? Skype? email?

Hope to speak to you soon.

Benson McCulloch
Reporter - News Talk 650 CKOM

Sharon Kent said...

Hi Janelle. I'm a member of Gateway Covenant church in Prince Albert. Our Council was meeting just a few short hours after the earthquake and we took time to pray for you in particular, and the dire needs of Haiti in light of this disaster. May God bless you in your efforts there.