After driving by night to Kennedy Airport January 12th, and flying to the Dominican Republic January 13th, Conan and I arrived to Haiti this morning in the helicopter of the President of the Dominican Republic. This ride was due to the reputation of NPH in the Dominican Republic, NPH Italy, a reputation enhanced in the DR by Andrea Bocelli not long ago.
Our first tasks were the medical evacuation of one of our American volunteers, the medical evacuation of one of our Cuban doctors and the evacuation of the body if one of our American visitors. The search still continues in the rubble for another missing American volunteer, Molly.
We also had 18 funerals today. One for John who works at our St Luke program. We miss John very much. He often stopped to at my door to tell me the milestone of his developing baby, which delighted him no end. John ran our computerized language lab. Another was for Johanne’s mother. Joanne is one of the Directors of the St Luke program. All the others were of unknown people who were sadly rotting by the wayside.
Other sadnesses…the death of Immacula, our only physician assistant, who worked at our huge outpatient side of our hospital. The death of ALL but one of Joseph Ferdinand’s brothers and sisters, the death of the husband of Jacqueline Gautier as he was visiting a school which fell and all the students (all died), the death of our ex-pequeno Wilfrid Altisme who was in his 5th year of seminary for priesthood. Other stories of deaths of people who are dear to us keep coming in.
We spent the rest of the time managing the countless people with serious and severe wounds, coming to our hospital. We are doing our best for them, under trees and in the parking lot with ever diminishing supplies. We will work throughout the night and beyond. No stores are open, no banks are open. Diesel is running out. Will be out in two days if we don’t find a solution, which will mean no power at all. The hospital is without water since there is some broken line between the well and the water tower.
Structural damages to the hospital seem superficial at first glance, but about half the outer perimeter walls have fallen. The old hospital in Petionville is in ruins, and teams of workers, led by Ferel, have been digging for Molly non-stop around the clock.
Please continue to pray for us. We pray for you too.
Fr. Rick Frechette
Dear Friends and Family,
I want to thank you on behalf of Fr. Rick, NPFS, the St. Luke team and our entire family here in Haiti for all your prayers, concern and especially support during this most difficult time. At this time there is no regular internet, electricity for internet or for computer or phone charging. Fr. Rick is at spending most of his time at the hospital and organizing search/rescue teams with Nebez and Augusnel (of St. Luke). The phones lines are also not yet reliable.
This morning Fr. Rick, Dr. Pilar Silverman, Conan, Vern Conaway and I arrived in Haiti via special helicopter
arrangements made by the First Lady of the Dominican Republic and by Vern. The state of the country is beyond words. The past few years of hurricanes were nothing compared to the scope of damage done with this earthquake. The government has advised no one stay inside as aftershocks were still hitting the country today. People are literally sleeping, well really just sitting in groups, on the streets tonight. Electricity is cut, Water is running out and so is food. We are almost out of medical supplies.
The pediatric patients at St. Damien Hospital in Tabarre are all outside on the grass under makeshift canopies and we are hoping to get tents soon. Two emergency centers have been set up in the driveway of the hospital – one for children and one for adults. The other hospitals are also overloaded and running out of supplies as well. We are almost out of supplies and we have many offers of donations that can be sent if people confirm it with me first.
The children and staff in the orphanage are all fine. They were together outside on the basketball court during the earthquake, slept outside last night and probably will continue to do so until we know its safe for them indoors. The children who live in our rented houses in the St. John Bosco program (formally the extern program) are okay. We are not yet sure of all the ex-pequeños (hermanos mayores) and all of the children living with family. We have lost several people so far including John our know-how-to-do-anything-electronics man from St. Damien, an ex- pequeños Solita Badio and her baby, two younger brothers and one sister of Joseph Ferdinand our Intranet Projects Manager, many extended family members and I fear the list will continue to grow as the days go on. Fr. Rick already did 15 funerals this afternoon and I’ve been told there are just bodies lying in the streets in Port au Prince. Our Father Wasson Center has indeed collapsed and it’s a very sobering experience to stand next to it. Our volunteer Erin Kloos has been evacuated to the US after being pulled from the Fr. Wasson Center rubble after a 12 hour search and rescue. A visitor Rachel has been evacuated to the US with a broken arm and we are still searching for Molly Hightower. Please pray for Molly and please pray for the countless men who have been searching non-stop for almost 56 hours now.
With lots of prayers for God’s peace here in Haiti.