Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiti - From Kevin's View

What the church does is amazing. Since the earthquake, we have held a daily coordination meeting with Church Humanitarian Services. They ask what is needed and then pull all of the strings to make it happen.
Here locally our Area Welfare Manager is working all hours coordinating all kinds of aid that is being offered. Because of congestion at the airport in Port au Prince people are having to land in the DR and then drive over land to Haiti. Bennie is coordinating doctors and others asking to volunteer and then flying in to help. There will continue to be shipments going over land from here. Like Kim mentioned, we transferred 2 good brothers to the border today with two pickup trucks, 40 gallons of diesel and as many hygiene kits, first aid kits, tarps water and other things as we could get into the pickups. After about a 6 hour drive we met a couple of key priesthood leaders at the border, transferred everything from one of the pickups into his vehicle and then sent the other pickup with our two good brethren on into Port au Prince. These two brothers will help assess buildings, member needs, help coordinate the massive church shipments that are coming in and anything else that is needed.
I was amazed and touched at the amazing amount of Heavy trucks, equipment etc that we saw at the border. There had to be 100 semi-trucks, apparently full of supplies, waiting to cross over. Most of that had to be coming from the already impoverished Dominican Republic. On both our way there and back we passed many other trucks, cranes, trucks with bleach, large tank trucks, and people and everything else between. A very touching show of support and solidarity for the Haitians.
As we put our arms around our Stake President/Facilities Manager at the border today we saw the shock, sadness, and stress in his eyes as he told us that he already knew of 15 deaths in his stake. We said goodbye to our friends, knowing that they will be sleeping on a hard floor tonight and doing without all of lifes conveniences. For food they took two 72 hour kits, two boxes of granola bars, 6 cases of water (for others) and one filter water bottle between them (these things will filter anything including urine, mud, you name it, so that it is drinkable). I got back home a couple of hours ago. Please pray, pray, pray for these people. Haiti was already extremely impoverished before.

Thanks. Kevin


Tuesday evening at 5:53 we were all hanging out on the fourth floor in the Munives apartment. The fumigator had come at 4:00 and so we couldn't go into our apartment until after 6:00. I had just returned from the school where I had picked up Kambrielle after Girl Scouts. I was visiting with Emma and the girls were watching "Phantom of the Opera" with Keny and Emily while Alex and Parker were playing on the computer. Emma got up to answer the phone and the couch felt like it was moving. I haven't been feeling well this week and so I thought, "Wow, I must be getting really sick! I had better go lay down!", thinking that I was dizzy or something from not feeling well. A second later I realized that the plants were moving and lamps moving and went "AUGH! Earthquake!" A minute later Kathy Jackman ran down the stairs and gathered us up, along with Parker, and we went out onto the tennis courts/park area to wait and see about aftershocks.
While waiting there, we learned from cell phones that the earthquake had been centered in Haiti, and had registered at 7.0. What we felt had been registered at about 4.2 (is what I read in the paper, but I can't find it to confirm the exact number) Kathy felt it more than we did, since she lives on the 14th floor. We learned that we were in a Tsunami Watch, and that continued until around 10:00. They did measure a very small Tsunami in Santo Domingo, but it was just a displacement of a foot.
The older girls were a little frightened, but kind of excited. They were hoping for no school on Wednesday, but no luck there! Kambrielle was afraid and very clingy and I worried that she would be sleeping with us that night. Thanks to girl scouts, she was wiped out and crashed on the couch and was able to get a good night's sleep.
When we returned to our apartment around 7:00 we turned on CNN and were able to hear the small amount of information that they had available. Kevin stayed quite late at work, working with the brethren there trying to get information from Haiti and share it with the Presiding Bishopric. The church has some satellite phones and so late in the evening they were able to contact some brethren in Haiti and begin to get an idea of the devastation.
Yesterday Kevin went to work early and stayed quite late gathering supplies and organizing how to distribute the supplies that are being sent by the church. The church generally sends things and has them distributed by other organizations that are all ready up and running in the country, generally Catholic Relief Services.
Kevin left this morning at 5:00 and is driving with some other men with trucks full of supplies. They were purchasing walkie talkies for the leaders to be able to communicate with each other. He was looking last night for gas cans. They were taking as much gas as they could, since there is not gas available in most of the country. I am not sure of the other supplies that they were sending, since Kevin came home after I went to bed and got up at 4:00. They are meeting priesthood leaders at the border and transferring supplies there.
He told me that he was able to speak with one of his Facility Managers yesterday. Kevin asked him how the people in his stake had fared. Kevin was told that almost every family in the stake had lost their homes. (He only knew of one home that had survived) Several families had deaths in their families....... two of them had all their children die, as the home collapsed on them.
I am so overcome with grief for the people here. There are 3 people from Haiti in my Spanish class. One of them was there yesterday. She had been able to talk to her mom for 5 seconds, right after the first quake (there have been many, many strong aftershocks). and at that time they were OK. Part of their house had fallen off and crashed onto their car (they are one of the wealthy families that has a car). Their home is destroyed, but they were alive. The other two weren't there. One is an older gentleman (a lawyer in his early 60's) and he has children and grandchildren there. I am sure that he was driving to try to get them out.
One of our friends here works for Cure, International. He is leaving today with several doctors to help however they can with the injuries. Please keep all of the people that are there in your prayers and pray that the service people that are going there to help will be safe. Haiti was very unstable and unsafe before this happened.
This is the post from the church website of what the church is doing. If you have been feeling that you should do something, please give at the link attached. Or add to your fast offering this month under Humanitarian Aid.
SALT LAKE CITY 13 January 2010 In the wake of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is mobilizing resources to address the most pressing needs of the people in the Caribbean nation. Images of collapsed buildings and devastated families tell the story of the widespread destruction.
Two planes, one departing from Denver as early as Thursday and another leaving from Miami later this week will each include over 80,000 pounds of food and emergency resources such as tents, tarps, water filtration bottles and medical supplies donated by the Church. Transportation is being provided by Airline Ambassadors and Food for the Poor will aid with distribution in Haiti.
“We are constantly assessing needs to determine how our resources can directly help the people of Haiti,” said Nate Leishman, manager of the Church’s humanitarian emergency response efforts. “We are fully committed to this ongoing process and doing our best to help wherever we can.”
These new shipments are in addition to emergency supplies being sent by truck from the Dominican Republic including personal hygiene kits and supplies for newborns announced early Wednesday by the Church.
“We express our sympathy and prayers on behalf of the citizens of Haiti following the recent devastating earthquake,” said Kim Farah, Church spokesperson.
All Latter-day Saint missionaries serving in the country are safe, and Church leaders continue efforts to account for Church members in the area.
Donations for relief efforts can be made at