My relief trip to Haiti with pictures, Part 1

Bus and rubble from Haiti earthquake

A bus is partially buried in rubble following the earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Photo: Marty Duren

Last week I was given the opportunity to travel with Helping Hands Foreign Missions to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, providing logistical support to a medical team in the earthquake relief effort. It took two days to get there flying from Atlanta through Miami to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. We left early the morning of the second day for an 11 hour bus ride to Port-au-Prince. I was told the distance is 156 miles as the crow flies, but, since both capitals are coastal cities the road meanders close to the water on each of the trip, then strikes out over the interior and a couple of mountains, making the distance closer to 250 slow miles.

We began seeing destruction quite a ways outside Port-au-Prince, mostly smaller buildings here and there. Often it could not be determined whether the earthquake was to blame or time, decay and poor craftsmanship. Nevertheless, the closer we got to the center, the more intense and frequent the damage became. Entire multi-story buildings were pancaked spraying concrete blocks, dust and rubble onto the street or vacant lots. Cars damaged or crushed. Tents erected on sidewalks, in parks, on rubble and in one case on top of a smashed car.

Tent village in Haiti

A tent village rises in the distance behind a heavily damaged building west of Port-au-Prince. Photo: Marty Duren

Having ridden through many parts of Port-au-Prince over the course of four full days it appears that there is not a block where at least one building is not completely destroyed with more damaged. Large buildings, small buildings and everything in between. The Ministry of Justice building was leveled like a child’s building blocks. The facade and supports of the majestic capital building are crumbled. The back of the presidential palace is ruined with decades old timbers exposed. Piles of rubble 20 feet high cover an unknown number of corpses some of which may never be recovered.

The clean up effort moves at the pace of a snail with bunions. Over the course of four full days and several more hours we saw about four dump trucks in action and fewer track-hoes and tractors. Once we rode past a line of 25 or more dump trucks not in use. Logistically it remains a nightmare. We were told that food, water and medical help had yet to make it to Carrefour which was closer to the epicenter.

Homes destroyed in Haiti earthquake.

Some homes were destroyed in this Haitian valley outside Port-au-Prince. Photo: Marty Duren


Tomorrow I’ll be posting more pictures and writing about the medical work done last week.

A few of the available books on Haiti:


Marty Duren

Just a guy writing some things.

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  • Thurm

    Marty,
    Thanks for your ministry to these people and for the story and photos. I can’t begin to imagine the horror and destruction. i wish i could say I look forward to your next installment tomorrow. But I don’t. Nevertheless, I will. We can’t bury our heads. Love you, man!
    Thurm

    • Marty Duren

      Thanks, Thurm. I think I’ll have one each on Wed and Thurs as well. I appreciate your comment.

      What was most interesting was there seems to be a surplus of food in the market areas, but the quake victims have neither transport to get there or money to buy. Since they are dependent on the UN few of them are getting all that they need.

  • Pingback: Medical missions in Haiti, Part 2 | martyduren.com()

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  • i have several relatives who were also vicitimized by the earthquake in Haiti. thank God that they were not seriously hurt. i hope and pray that Haiti would be able to recover soon from this disaster.