Haitian National Treasure Destroyed in Quake

Haiti's National Palace, before the quake of January 12, 2010I had not thought I’d be essentially reopening The Brown Study with such a dire story, but it so happens that this one touches me pretty directly: although Haiti is not my nation, it is the land of my ancestors, and I have family there, including a cousin, Marie Jo Bredy, and “Granny” Serette, who was once married to my grandfather.

I came home from work tonight to find a voicemail from my mom, telling me “Surely you have heard about the disaster in Haiti, call me!” Well I hadn’t, but 15 minutes later, I did.

The very first image: Haiti’s National Palace, with its roof completely accordioned down onto the main building.

Haiti's National Palace - AfterAt approximately 21:53 GMT (approximately 5:53PM Eastern Daylight Time), a magnitude 7.0 quake hit the capital city of Port-au-Prince. Located just 5-6 miles underground, the force of the quake was reportedly felt all the way up to Cap Haitien, in the north. As a result, many very historically important buildings, including the National Palace, have sustained substantial damage. The video footage is horrific: people, covered in dust and blood, walking through the devastated streets of the poorest city in the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere, looking lost, distressed, crying, praying. Buildings collapsed into the streets. A huge fire is burning somewhere in a building that appears to be large enough to have been important. I am not sure at this time what the building is. The big Cathedral’s facade appears mostly up, but it’s clear it’s lost its soaring heights. The city’s biggest hospital is said to have collapsed.

Through it all, there is absolutely no doubt that many, many people have been trapped in the rubble. I would guess most will not come out alive.

I am worried about my cousin Marie Jo and her daughter, both of whom would have been on their way home at the time the quake hit, one from work, the other from school. Their house is on a hillside, as well, which is very unnerving to think about.

I refuse to think too long about what happened to the slum city of Cite Soleil.

Please pray for the Haitian people tonight. If you have a few dollars available, or if all you can do is donate blood to your local blood bank to replenish what they will lose in your community when they ship blood to Haiti, please consider doing so.

More updates as I have them.


The Cathedral of Port-au-Prince -- BeforeThe Port-au-Prince Cathedral - After
As of about 15 minutes ago (1:15 AM EDT), The New York Times is reporting that the UN says it’s Haitian Headquarters, as well as the National Cathedral and the Haitian Parliament buildings have all collapsed. This is a disaster of unimaginable proportions in any capital city; in the capital of the poorest nation on this side of the Atlantic, it’s virtually a doomsday scenario.

Please, if you have any love for your fellow human beings, say a prayer for Haiti, send good thoughts, then run (don’t walk) to an aid organization you trust and help out. I’m sure supplies will be needed, as well as money and blood donations.

If you want to help, consider the following places:

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