The Hatian earthquake has left at least half a million survivors displaced and homeless, and as relief efforts continue now, some aid workers worry that the coming hurricane season may compound the disaster.
The enormity of the immediate crisis in Haiti has captured and held the world’s attention for the past two and a half weeks, but Chloe Gans-Ruggebregt, a north coast native who is on the Red Cross health staff in Haiti, is worried that global concern will soon move on to other areas, while the Hatian people will need years of assistance to recover from the disaster.
Chloe has been living and working in Haiti for the past four year, and her parents visited her there just last summer. They’ve been talking with her almost daily since the quake, and her father, John Ruggebregt of Santa Rosa, says that for him, those conversations have given the humanitarian crisis an individualized human face.
The local Red Cross office is maintaining a list of events in Sonoma and Mendocino Counties to raise money to support relief efforts. You can also view a slideshow of Red Cross photographs from Haiti. To make a donation, click here.
When the quake struck, Chloe was more than 100 miles away in rural Haiti. She promptly returned to Port au Prince (where she, too, lived) and emailed her first impressions not long after arriving there:
I was on the fourth floor of the house in Trou du Nord when the earthquake started. It probably lasted about 20 seconds. The whole house was shaking and people started yelling and running outside. There was however no major damage in the NE. The phone promptly went out as did our Internet which relies on the same system.
I drove to PAP [Port au Prince] today thinking that I wouldn't be able to get back just because it had been raining for two weeks in the north and the planes weren't flying. There was no way I nor my driver could have predicted what we would see when we drove into PAP.
We started to see large cracks in the highway about an hour outside PAP and as we got closer and closer the chaos mounted. PAP probably has tens of thousands dead and no aid [organization] can even respond. Matt [Marek, head of the American National Red Cross Haiti delegation] was out with half our team all night and day just giving basic first aid, but the hospitals are closed or full, the government has many dead, the head of the UN is dead and many of the UN are unaccounted for as are six of our staff.
We are sure they are fine but they have no way to communicate and many roads are blocked. I haven't been home but will go tomorrow to see if my house is still there. As far as I know we will only be able to do first aid but teams are on the way. I am in shock along with the entire city. The city has been reduced to a concrete pile of rubble. Everyone is sleeping outside because they are scared of more.