From the Archives: Catastrophe: Haiti hit with 7.0 earthquake
By Bill Forry
Jan. 12, 2010
On the anniversary of the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake, the Reporter goes back into its archives for a look at how we covered those first hours. Below is a record of that coverage, starting just minutes after word reached Boston.
Tuesday, Jan. 12
(5:50 p.m.)- Haiti, a country besieged by deadly hurricanes and grinding poverty, has experienced yet another catastrophic natural disaster today. CNN is reporting that the island nation has been rocked by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake centered some 10 miles off the coast of the capitol Port-au-Prince.
Kenson Calixte, a Haitian-American from Abington, has talked to two relatives on the ground in Delmas, a community about 15 miles from Port-au-Prince. Calixte said they reported widespread devestation, including a hotel that had collapsed.
"My uncle said he'd never felt anything like this before," said Calixte. "The house shook and there was much damage inside the house. There are houses that have collapsed in his neighborhood."
"My cousin thinks there are casualties there at the hotel. He was walking the street saying there are a lot of people hurt."
National Public Radio is assembling a Twitter list of news from the earthquake zone.
(6:27) Bostonian Joseph Chery said that he had finally reached a brother-in-law in downtown Port-au-Prince.
"He said that all the streets are unusable because of multiple car accidents (pile ups). No availble transportation, private or public. When I spoke to him , about ten minutes ago, he was walking from his office in Downtown Port-Au-Prince to his house in upper Delmas."
Live program tonight from 8 p.m. on BNN-TV- channel 23. Tele Kreyol planning program now.
Many people report having difficulty reaching relatives in Haiti- all sections. Cell phone coverage apparently working.
Bostonian Brian Concannon of Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti: "No word on friends and collaborators, and I can't get through on any phone lines."
Concannon has received an e-mail from Boston-based Partners In Health, located in Haiti's Central Plateau region: "Brian, unfortunately cell phone service is out here in Haiti so I can't reach anyone either. We are ok in the CP. Hoping and praying that we hear word soon that others in PAP are ok!"
Max Clermont, a Malden resident and Brown University student reports: "No one can get through. I just saw a Tweet about a place in Delmas where my grandmother lives; it says there are more houses down than standing up."
Reporter contributor Elizabeth St. Victor reports: "Fequiere Raphael, journalist for radio station 'Nouvelliste' learned recently that Mr. Melodie's (owner of the station) home, has collapsed and his wife cannot be found in the rumble."
Radio Teleginen has photos of the damage. Thanks Universal Hub.
lio Durandis, founder of Haiti 2015, a Boston-based organization, just returned from a trip to Haiti this week.
"We still have two members there in Delmas-Petionville area. We're trying to get their whereabouts. One of the houses where we stayed has crumbled down in Delmas."
Durandis says that the two members are students from Virginia.
Max Clermont reports: "Just heard from my mom's family in Croix des Bouquet-- church collapsed, neighbors houses collapsed, looking for loved ones, neighbors and friends. No word from Delmas yet."
(8:05)- Kenson Calixte relays news that the Hotel Montana in Petionville has been destroyed. A children's hospital in Port-au-Prince — St. Gaimon— has also collapsed, according to someone on the scene who spoke to Calixte, an Abington resident who is originally from Haiti.
Elizabeth St. Victor relays:
"Here's a link with a live radio station from Haiti where people are calling in to get news about various districts of Port-au-Prince or report their whereabouts or get news of family: http://www.tvchannelsfree.com/watch/6318/Haiti-Pal.html. People from the US can call in as well to make announcement calls.
There is also a link on the CNN website, main page, called "Haitian TV" where it can be accessed.
This is a live twitter update of photos coming in: http://picfog.com/search/Haiti
The Livesay Haiti blog reports: We are okay.
Riche Zamor, president of the University of Fondwa in Haiti, who formerly ran the Haitian Multi-Service Center in Dorchester, is here in Boston. He has been here recovering from a serious car accident in Haiti last year. Zamor was scheduled to return to Port-au-Prince next Tuesday and still plans to go, despite tonight's news.
"I'll be going, as long as they're flying," Zamor said. He has not yet been able to reach anyone on the ground in Haiti by phone or e-mail.
RAM band leader and Hotel Oloffson's Richard Morse is tweeting updates.
Morse tweet just after 10 p.m.: "just saw a picture of the palace..it is destroyed."
BHR contributing editor Steve Desrosiers - here in Boston- reports: "All radio stations are off, no live broadcasts in Haiti, aftershocks are still being felt."
Richard Morse from the Oloffson at 10:12 p.m.: "It's getting quieter in PauP..singing and praying I was hearing earlier has died down..no helicopters..no sound of ambulances."
Morse at 10:14p.m.: "when my batteries die I will no longer be able to communicate..it's going to be a long night..our prayers go out to everyone."
The palace is in rubbles: http://twitpic.com/xvhiz. Courtesy LoveMySkip
Daniel Morel posts photos of the devastation On TwitPix @photomorel : http://twitpic.com/xvj75
Yolette Ibokette, a longtime contributor to the Reporter, who lives in Randolph reports:
" I just talked to my brother who lives in Boston, but his wife and their child live in Delmas. He talked to them at about 6-6:30 p.m. Everyone is fine, but just to be safe they went to a field away from buildings and trees. Their house shook but is otherwise fine. Their dishes and other items broke.
"A gas station across the street from them was flattened by the quake, crushing people who were buying gas. His wife also reports blocked roads from houses that fell in the streets."
(11:00) Reporter contributing editor Steve Desrosiers (in Boston) has spoken to sources in Haiti: "Delmas, Petionville and Carrefour have been severely hit. A portion of the national palace has been severely damaged and since aftershocks are still being felt some families are opting to stay outdoors. Many of the stores that would have sold candles for lighting etc. are rubble."
Message on the Digicel cellular phone of our friend and BHR colleague we are trying to reach in Haiti: "We're sorry, but you are not allowed to make this call due to restrictions on outgoing calls by Digicell."
President Obama's statement: "My thoughts and prayers go out to those who have been affected by this earthquake. We are closely monitoring the situation and we stand ready to assist the people of Haiti.”
More from our colleague Yolette Ibokette: "One of my cousins who lives in Florida was on the phone with his brother who lives in Cayes when the latter said he felt the quake. Unfortunately, the line went dead at that moment. He hasn't been able to reach him since."
The Atlantic Monthly's Marc Ambinder reports on Twitter (at @1 a.m. EST): "From what I can gather, Obama is still up and working on response to the Haiti earthquake."
Ambinder adds: "Also involved: former Pres. Clinton, special envoy to Haiti. He will be probably be public face of intl recovery efforts."
Rachel Maddow's website at MSNBC offers list of charitable orgs that can help in Haiti. Bostonians scramble for news from relatives
State Department number for Americans seeking info about family in Haiti: 1-888-407-4747
Rachel Maddow's website at MSNBC offers list of charitable orgs that can help in Haiti.
Wed., Jan 13
(7:40 a.m.) Finally some good news: Our friend and colleague Richardson Innocent, who moved to Haiti from Boston last month, is alive and OK. Just got a text message. No word on where he is. Still can't reach him on his phone. - Bill Forry
(8:40) Donna Barry, policy chief for Boston-based Partners in Health, tells the Reporter that the organization has opened its clinics in the Central Plateau region "to anyone who can get there." Partners in Health, run by Dr. Paul Farmer, is accepting monetary donations at its website.
Barry says its biggest need will be blood.
Partners in Health has hospitals open today in Cange, Hinche and St. Marc and Belledaire, according to Barry, with surgeons ready to see patients. The problem may be getting victims there.
"We're going to need more supplies, pain medications, surgical kits," Barry said.
Barry hopes that emergency supplies stockpiled in the country in anticipation of hurricanes — which spared the country in 2009- can be deployed quickly.
"Water is going to be a huge issue," Barry said.
(8:57 a.m.) Boston's Haitian community will gather for a meeting about the situation in Haiti this evening at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in the South End at 7 p.m., according to State Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry. More details to come.
(9:55 a.m.) Dr. Larry Ronan of Massachusetts General Hospital reports that a highly-trained disaster response team composed of doctors and nurses from the hospital is "ready to rock" and could dispatch 16-20 people to Haiti as soon as today. Ronan will personally lead an insert team from MGH under the direction of the U.S. government.
"Our team is on alert to deploy," Ronan - a resident of Dorchester- told the Reporter. "They have to be released by the federal government. We have a team of between 40 and 60 people- very seasoned people. They are fully equipped to be in that environment and to be helpful.
Ronan said that MGH had committed to send 16-20 people today with more medical staff at the ready in the days to come.
"At the moment, our country has enormous resources to help and we need to do it in a way that's going to be most effective. That's what's going on in Washington right now with officials coordinating with SouthCom (the U.S. naval wing that includes the Caribbean). We're waiting on larger federal approval, but we're ready to rock now."
(10:30 a.m.)- Governor Deval Patrick has issued a statement this morning: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Haiti at this time of terrible tragedy. We stand strong with the Haitian community here in Massachusetts and will be reaching out over the course of the coming days to offer any assistance we can to them and their families."
(10:34 a.m.) Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations, has issued the following statement this morning:
"Our prayers are with the people of Haiti. The Haitian people were still desperately
trying to recover from deadly hurricanes that hit 18 months ago before this latest
devastating blow to the poorest and least prepared country in our hemisphere.
Preliminary reports suggest that thousands may have died and that tens of thousands
are without shelter.
"The Obama Administration's reaction has been speedy and well-coordinated. The
White House, U.S. Agency for International Development, State Department, Southern
Command, and the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince have mobilized effectively and are
already rushing assistance to Haiti. I am also very concerned that international
humanitarian efforts led by the United Nations have been critically affected by the
collapse of UN headquarters in Port-au-Prince. Our thoughts and condolences extend
to the UN community. We are already working with local leadership to find ways to
coordinate Massachusetts resources to aid as well. Our assistance to Haiti must be
generous and sustained to ensure Haiti recovers from this humanitarian crisis and
can eventually rebuild."
(10:52)- Boston Mayor Tom Menino's office released the following statement from the mayor:
"Boston's ties to Haiti are deep, and our thoughts and prayers go out not only to
the victims of this tragedy, but also to the Haitian community in our city whose
loved ones have been affected by the disaster."
(11:05)- BHR columnist Brian Concannon of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti checks in on Facebook:
"Some more good news: Mario Joseph of our Haitian affiliate, the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, called his wife after the earthquake, and was ok. The BAI office was damaged, but standing. We have no news from other staff. Former BAI lawyer Pooja Bhatia, now with the Institute of Current World Affairs, checked in ok last night. Partners in Health reports that most (but I believe not all yet) of their staff is ok."
From the office of Rep., Marie St. Fleur:
"Representatives Marie St. Fleur, Linda Forry, Catholic Charities and Haitian Based
Organizations will host an information meeting regarding the situation in Haiti this
evening, January 13, 2010 at 7p.,. with the Boston Haitian Community. This meeting
will take place at the Catheral of the Holy Cross, 400 Washington St.(South End)
(2:00 p.m.) Members of the 1199 SEIU union, based in Dorchester, will host a meeting for union leaders this afternoon at 5 p.m. at their headquarters to discuss how they can assist in recovery efforts in Haiti.
This is their e-mail to union leaders:
"Dear Brothers and sisters, Thank you so much, friends for your phonecalls and emails expressing concerns and support for the people of Haitiafter the earthquake that just took place on Tuesday, January 12. Unfortunately, many of our members have not been able to speak to anyone in Haiti...Tonight the Haitian Caucus is meeting at 1199SEIU, 150 Mt. Vernon StreetSuite 300, Dorchester, MA 02125 (next to the Bay Side Expo) to plan anemergency relief fund. Please contact Herby @ 877-409-1199 and 617-284-1108 Herbert.firstname.lastname@example.org
(2:45 p.m.) Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley has issued a statement this afternoon, announcing plans for a special collection to be taken at Boston area Masses this weekend.
"The human tragedy unfolding in Haiti is heartbreaking and it calls all of us to
action to help the people impacted by the earthquake. We pray for those who have
perished, for the injured, for the displaced and for relief personnel who are
courageously working to assist the people of Haiti at this difficult and sad time.
We ask God to bless Haiti and to be merciful in their hour of need. The destruction
witnessed has devastated a poor nation of people who cry out now for the help of the
world community. The Archdiocese of Boston will do its part in assisting our
brothers and sisters in Haiti."
In an effort to provide direct support, the Cardinal is authorizing a second
collection in the parishes of the Archdiocese of Boston. Parishes may choose either
this coming weekend, January 16 & 17, or the weekend of January 30 & 31 to take the
collection. Funds collected will be sent to Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to
assist in relief efforts in Haiti. CRS will coordinate with local and international
agencies to determine how best to provide help where it is most needed. Parishes
are requested to please send a check to the Archdiocese for the proceeds of the
special second collection payable to the RCAB. In the memo portion of the check
please note, "Haiti Relief Collection."
In addition, the Cardinal announced that Catholic Charities Boston is actively
engaged in working with the local Haitian community to assist families locally who
have loved ones impacted by the earthquake. To stay informed, please visit
(3:00 p.m.) State Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry, Democrat of Dorchester, issued the following statement earlier today at her website:
"I ask everyone to pray for those in Haiti and those of us here. All of us and all the great friends of Haiti we have in Massachusetts are affected by these horrible events.
"For those of us with family and friends in Haiti- all of us are understandably upset- but we need to stay calm. This is going to be a monumental rebuilding effort and the U.S. can and should take the lead. This is the time to step up- especially Haitian Americans- and respond to a great human tragedy. We have to do it earnestly and quickly, but it’s also important that our response be well-planned and carried out.
"Haiti and Haitians are a resilient people and we will pull through this. Now, the work begins in trying to understand and piece together the total need. President Obama and Secretary Clinton have made an initial indication that the US response will be robust. In addition, we have President Bill Clinton who is currently serving as UN Special Envoy to Haiti. I trust these three will lead us well. We must make sure they do.
"Later today I am hopeful that the first US planes carrying aid will touchdown in Haiti. Already we can see staging areas in Miami are busy as supplies are loaded and sorted. I, along with my colleagues in the National Haitian American Elected Officials Network, will be in touch with the White House later today as we start to organize the recovery effort. On an individual basis, we can all do something to help. Tonight we will begin that effort.
"At 7 PM, tonight, January 13, I invite you to a meeting at the Holy Cross Cathedral in the South End (1400 Washington Street) where we will begin organizing the local recovery effort. At the meeting, aide organizations, government officials, Haitian Americans and concerned citizens will both mourn the devastation and begin the recovery. I hope you can join us. We will discuss search and rescue operations and have details regarding various funds where we can start channeling supplies to aid in the recovery. We will have more details regarding the meeting as the day continues.
"In the meantime, please keep Haiti in your prayers. This country has been through so much already and the coming weeks may be its most difficult yet."
An Oxfam America worker Sofia Lafontant relates her concerns about her relatives' well-being in Jacmel.
(5:15 p.m.) Somerville, MA mayor Joe Curtatone posts on Facebook: "sending thoughts and prayers to the people of Haiti, and to family members of those affected by this terrible tragedy, particularly in our own diverse community. Please join me in on Monday, January 18th at 7pm at Somerville High School for a vigil and healing ceremony for all of our friends and loved ones."
(5:30) Richard Morse reports more seismic activity: @RAMhaiti - another tremor...7:22PM..the praying has begun..outdoors..loud and energetic.Beni Swa Leternel!!!.So many churches have been destroyed... moments later: singing..praying..clapping hands..the sun is stting..another night of darkness..death is all around.everyone has seen death..destruction.
(5:41 p.m.) Dr. Larry Ronan, leading a team of Mass General Hospital docs and nurses going to Haiti right now as part of an advance team to treat the injured. He tells the Reporter: "Our disaster medical team has been deployed so they are about to depart. There are 5 Mass General people on it. It's good news: We're getting people out of here and down there."
Neighborhood Network News on BNN-TV covers the Boston reaction in their newscast tonight.
Senator Paul Kirk's office just contacted the BHR with this message:
"Senator Kirk's office is working with the State Department to help people who are
trying to connect to friends, family, and loved ones. The Boston Office number is
617-565-3170. Please feel free to post this number on your website so that people
know of this resource available to them. We will do everything we can to help."
Wednesday Jan 13- 7:30 p.m.
The meeting at the Cathedral is underway. Sen. John Kerry tells the crowd Kerry the first plane with 72 search and rescue are on ground
(2:00 a.m.) Northeastern U. responds (via Facebook):
"The Haitian Student Unity (H.S.U.) organization of Northeastern University was founded in 1973....H.S.U. would like to help the victims of the catastrophic earthquake that hit Haiti on January 12, 2010. We will be collecting items (clothes, canned goods, school supplies etc.) during our first general body meeting Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 6pm in 322 Curry to send back home. Your donations will be sent to Haiti through the Yele Haiti Foundation established by Musician Wylclef.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at email@example.com
Haitian Student Unity
Developing story- watch BostonHaitian.com for more information about the local reaction.
Live feed from Haiti Pal: