i’m still shocked. not only that i dodged such a heavy-hitting bullet by leaving less than a week after this happened, but shocked that this happened HERE. i’ve shed tears all throughout the day today: sadness, frustration, disbelief. i wonder how many people are still trapped under the rubble, the disintegrating buildings and infrastructure threatening not only to further collapse, but also ignite fires.
i wish i was there. i feel like it’s my city, too, my country. i could have known, met, or exchanged glances with any one of the people now dazed, bruised, broken, bloody, or buried under the collapsed bricks, wood, or concrete of a former church, school, or home.
i could be helping people. or taking photos, or translating, or writing and filing stories. then again, i could also be trapped under tons of fallen concrete.
from what i’ve been reading — and all of my most pertinent, up to date, in short, reliable, news has come from twitter feeds — the hotel montana is utterly devastated. RAM’s twitter feed, written by richard morse, who is at the moment tweeting off of one of the more reliable wifi connections in town (and one of the few remaining?), has been one of the most informative and indispensable feeds that i’ve come across so far. i’ve already asked him about leogane, and he says he’s heard no word.
and what about leogane, and all the other surrounding cities? leogane is where i stayed for a week, and is also located about 10 miles from the epicenter, only west, not east. i HAVE heard from yoleine, the mother of the house who also runs the small nonprofit that serves a good part of the town’s humanitarian needs, and she told me that several buildings near her house were down and that the city has been “hit hard.” and, no word on any of her extended family who lives year-round in her house (she lives full-time in brooklyn with her husband and kids).
i’ve heard that people staying at hotel oloffson are sleeping on the street in front of the hotel. i don’t even think i’d feel safe there, as the road is a ways down — as in, below — from the hotel. it’s also winter there, which means, while it’s 90-plus degrees during the day, it can get chilly at night.
i’ve heard from both journos i met down there, erik parker and daniel morel, and both are well. daniel was on the scene with his camera 20 seconds after the initial quake, i read somewhere, and erik walked all over the city afterward, taking pictures and posting them to his twitpic account. i don’t know when erik is leaving, how he’s going to get to the airport, and if commercial flights are leaving the city.
i’ve heard from barnaby fitzgerald, the art professor who i went to jacmel with several days before i left to come home; he said that his flight lifted off just HOURS before the quake struck on wednesday. and flo mcgarrell, his friend and now mine, an artist who manages a gallery in jacmel called FOSAJ — we guess she’s still in jacmel. as of my last email exchange with barnaby, noone had heard from her. i’ve heard the road between PAP and jacmel is impassable, though, and there were small quakes as far as gonaives. i’m worried, not that she might be stuck under some toppled building, but that water and food might be hard to get in the next days or weeks.