For those who want an inside view of what’s happening in Haiti, here is an update from a friend of mine who works for the UN in Haiti. It came through about 12 hours ago:
We had a bit of a lull in the action and I
was finally able to grab some sleep, but an aftershock tremor awoke me. I am now
unable to get back to sleep and up at 2:00AM preparing for tomorrow's flights. I
do have a sad story that illustrates what the people here are dealing with.
A colleague of mine lost her husband and 2 of 3 young daughters. She had to leave 2 daughters in the rubble to save the life of the third child, a toddler. She didn't want to leave her daughters and Husband in the rubble, but she had to in order that her third child might have a chance at life. How do you maintain sanity after a "gut-wrenching" decision like that. She quickly became a good friend of mine when I arrived in Haiti and instrumental in hiring me at the UN as she was our Chief of International Recruiting.
I thank you guys for for your thoughts, prayers and support. I lost many friends and colleagues. There but the grace of God, there Go I. Many of the places that I visited often have collapsed and are trapping people. The United Nations Headquarters, which is where I work, collapsed. The hospital collapsed.
The United States is stepping up to the plate "bigtime". [redacted]
I helped evacuate all the US Embassy Personnel back to the US yesterday. Now we are awaiting a battalion of US Marines. They will be a sight for sore eyes. "Hoo-Rah"
Forgive my rambling, but that's what happens when you're working on 1.5 hours of sleep.
I've learned in this, my second crisis in less than 6 months, that safeguarding your health is critical as a humanitarian relief worker/UN Peacekeeper. If you get hurt or sick, you're no good to the people. I often have to remind myself as someone reminded me yesterday that I failed to eat the entire day. Adrenaline has been pumping as we are still getting aftershocks as I write this email. I've left my computer and ran outside twice as I'm crafting you this message. I would love to hear from you guys as it keeps your spirits up to know that you have support from friend and loved ones. A strange benefit of an awful experience like this is that you establish unbreakable bonds with your colleagues and team members. Unfortunately, the two senior leaders of the Mission in Haiti perished when our Headquarters collapsed and I am unable to locate two of my staff members.
I will coordinate the arrival of most US military and a few others which will be delivering a wide range of aid over the next several days. I've requested medical supplies, blood supplies and 5000 body bags, but I'm afraid that will not be enough.
We are now locked down at the airport as our security team was concerned that they could no longer ensure our safety throughout the city. Apparently, gunshots have been fired. I'm safe and in my element coordinating operations.
Having been to Haiti on a "working" vacation years ago, it was one of the most impoverished and corrupt places I've ever been (and I've been to a lot of places - and you can insert a Chicago joke here). I've heard that it had lately turned the corner on building a better economy and environment for its citizens. This earthquake hit that effort soundly - banks, businesses etc. Tens of thousands probably dead and just as many missing. This will take a lot of work to fix. Prayers on the way.