Thursday, January 12, 2012

My Earthquake Story, for the First Time

On January 12, 2010, my life changed forever when one out of every 11 people living in my city died in a massive earthquake. During the first few days, I felt compelled to write down everything on scraps of paper. I re-discovered the scraps recently and will share them now for the first time.

I'm copying exactly as I wrote it, with red pen on the back of an already-used piece of notebook paper, except for notes I added in brackets to make it clearer for you. I also changed the names of the three children, for privacy.

The Earthquake
Tues Jan 12, 5 pm
Day of: taught about earthquakes in last period geography, went to Eagle [grocery store] for laundry deterg, didn't get anything else really, home, pop a can of tom. juice, thinking toward dinner/homework. starts- like a truck Ben jumps up, to stairwell. sit top step, stare @ each other. grabs me, outside w/ a few things- no pport, no US phone. I'm afraid of streets. Go next door to Bill, a family from the DR just arrived. stand outside- yelling & running then- ravine people. dead kid, bloody kid, old lady B takes off. Dorothy crying, watching like idiots. B return. Go in our house, get US phone, water, flash, lantern, hand sani., paper towels, care for little boy, family member dead, he's alone, Found "brother's friend" & some lady, treating him, head bleeding- concerned about blood (HIV). Then notice hand- bad to fatty tissue. Steve starts knocking next door, came to check. Says headed back to school, we follow, run. Walls down, Jerusalem School ok. 50 kids @ school; teachers. Still light, kids joke- studied earthquakes in class today. Milling around, Sara upset. No cell coverage. Said her bookshelf was down, were @ house. comforted. moved into chapel, getting dark. sign-out sheet. soccer field. some getting cell cov- Digicel vs. Voila [Haitian cell companies]. Mom txting- said we're ok, she says tsunami, says we're like African Katie :) Phone dying, try to txt for others. Hearing who's ok, rumors- 7.0? tsunami? 10 m from PAP. Carribbean [a grocery store] down? Natl Palace down? Chapel- take account. Sing- R Chabot. sit w/ DR kids, Sara & Scott, Alli 6th grade no word on her parents. Lantern. Pray. Big tremor, back outside. Haitians on field- Miquette back. Pregnant PA named Rachel & physical ther James plus their kids. Miquette & Art treating. Lynette weeping. Boy w/ Bad head injuiry- 2 bad scrapes, deep cuts, 3 yrs, wet himself, bug eyes swollen leg. Miquette bag- I hold flashlight. 1 pic. Irrigate, wipe, neospor, gauze, bandage, tape. Art w/her. Ben lantern. sling, waking- pupils. 2nd girl- bloody braids. Several w/cuts- older boys. Nowhere to take boy. Sleeping on field- baby crying. Relatives of kitchen/gate staff "we're fine- our house is gone". Tremors. inside, couch, blankets. Tremor- leap up- pack bag for escape- tiny couches, safe. Night crawls by. Midnight big tremor, I'm wide awake. B writes. 1st min together, to process. Fitful sleep, heart racing. Felt 100 imaginary tremors. Under fan. Cars racing. Sirens, yelling, opening gate like attack. Miquette in & out. 3 am Alli's dad comes, doesn't take her. Til 5 am Jaime @ Caribbean- 30 peop alive, Tim @ Montana [a hotel that fell], got 5 out. Alarm 6, we wake, light. Pee- gross, swish w/ toothpaste.
Queency, the little boy with very severe injuries, on the night of the 12th.

2nd d- Wed Jan 13 More people on field- wailing. Miquette woken by Ruth- wailing, crawling, we watch. Lynette's niece is dead [on the school soccer field]. Ben grabs, takes us w/ Tony Dekoter to inspect- high school bldg- sound. Lockers over, library mess, bookshelves down, comp lab & copier ok. Our room- globe fallen (not tv cart). W/ Steve, Sara, Scott, Ben, Tony. went home- key ring broke, back gate. practically ran. people on streets- had slept there. house ok. put on tennis shoes, deod, both bucket flush. Thought of Exodus- a wail in the land. ate pb sandwich, pringles, unplug all, charge phone & cam. take passport. eggs don't work- stove wont heat. house fine.
Bill's: wife & pregnant Rachel w/ kids. Men @ Titayen- warehouse. Tiffany's ok. we work on internet, busted. Dekoter says some @ orphanage, want to go help bring kids here? Three Angels to orphanage in car w/ Francois- first view of Delmas [the central street through PAP]. Texaco flat on car. 6 story twisty staircase- construction fell. streets packed. Begin to see choppers. Through back roads, families on bricks in streets. Tony K, Katie, Jaime, Cathy, Mark & sister. Meet Abby [a 22-year-old who was running the entire orphanage by herself]. Boys remain, pray + sing. Load kids. More food. Mattresses, walk back long, scared, sunburn blood on streets- cut foot. pee + trash. Sit for awhile. Tony K makes rice- dead body still on soccer field. weeping. visiting. feed Haitians. orphans on pre-k playground. sat. Tim arrives- went to talk to Steve in his house- Ted worrying about cadavers. Drove, ravines a disaster. People in Steve's yard with dogs- Odonie's husband's family. 2 or 3 babies- Down's. He's sleeping- wakes. Had 2-3 hurs. Ruth, Ted, B, Steve & I living rm w/ Scott & Sara putting books- Jap tea set, plates. We go to Bill's. We pack for night, get laptop, chargers, toiletries. We prep our house for a break-in if looters come. We go with Ted, Steve to CSI guest house & Heaths' house. Park on Delmas- can't get near b/c dead are piling up on street. Dozens on street- ravine destroyed. Carol ok, house a mess. Guest house unstable, Kathy et. al. in back- INTERNET. We Fbook, email fam/small group. load meds into truck, terrified back to car, to campus, eat rice and half a pb sand. Feed people, love on Blesh kids, B journals, sleep on couch again.


My story from Thursday, Friday, and Saturday after the quake can be read here.


  1. Always praying and thanking God for miracles

  2. My heart is pounding reading this -- it brings it all back. I'm so glad you are alive and so are we.

  3. Was I the Ruth that woke Miquette? I don't remember that at all.

  4. Katie, I know to you and Ben that in that moment you felt as if you had no choice but to react in the manner you did, to do what needed to be done.

    When so many others would've turned, and run, you chose, chose mind you, to remain, to care, to toil with those beside you.

    The two of you are the very definition of courage, and charity, and I am honored to call you friends.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...