One year since the earthquake in Haiti- story of a survivor….

January 12, 2010- 16:53, turgeau, Port-au- Prince…

I was coming from work with three friends: Clara was driving, Youveline and Kurmchley joking with me……then…the earth quaked for thirty five seconds….we were shocked and surprised! Clara was begging us to stop this shaking game, Marlie was yelling, Youveline and I stayed still…We just realized it was an earthquake…. When we finally got out of the car, we could notice the first damages caused by the goudougoudou: people bleeding, yelling, asking for help, others calling Jesus, others asking what was the phenomena which just happened, cars blocking the road…. And here came a biggggg noise followed by others and others and more people yelling and begging death to go away from them: buildings were collapsing: a house, La Pleiade library then Sodec hospital then a fire….in Starmart gas station….I was trembling…. Would it start quaking again? What would be the best attitude to keep to survive? Was all Haiti affected? Would there be a lot of dead people? A pregnant woman had her belly flattened by the sodec hospital’s entrance building concrete. Then came the image of a woman with her head split-i could see her brain- crying and asking God to keep her life…

The next thought came suddenly: is my family ok? I took my phone and dialed my sister’s number, no network service! Oh no, something is probably wrong with my sister’s phone! I tried my mom’s cellphone! And the no network service message appears again on my screen… For the first time that day, I started to cry…. I was ok, I don’t know if it would last but I was but what about my family?! Then, I started to babble all sort of things to convince myself everything would be all right, I talked to Jehovah asking him to protect my family but I knew nothing would be ok when my mom,my grandma, my uncle, my sister and my boo were some place else either injured or dead. I was imagining multiple scenarios whether they were injured or dead….Goudougoudou! the earth quaked again, the first aftershock!

My friends were panicking. Marlie was repeating to herself that God would save her and her family, Youveline was wondering where her mom was for the moment and Clara was crying the probable death of her family. As the fire was spreading, we had to move to another place.

As I could not make it to my house, I spent the night with my friends in an outdoor area in Canape Vert desperately waiting for the good or the bad tomorrow would bring us.

The trial was not over but, for the moment, we were safe and we had to struggle to survive.

In the morning, we decided it was time for us to go look for our house or its remainders. Marlie met her family around 2 am and left us. Youveline found all her household except her mother. Clara and I were the only one who didn’t hear yet from our family. Youveline along with her sisters, Clara and I took the road down to Turgeau where Clara left her car last night! It was time for us to go different ways. We were afraid to be apart, we wanted to support one another in case…. Youveline went to St Louis Roi de France’s church to look for her mother. Clara was the only one with me now! She wanted me to go with her as I wanted her to go with me… While we were discussing on the best way to find our respective families without being apart, Clara’s mother, brother and boyfriend found us.

Everybody found their family. I was the only one bearing the suspense now. Cars could not circulate and Clara was cardiac. It was better if she stayed with her family. We cried, we hugged each other and went different ways, Clara with the comfort to have found her family safe and I still questioning and doubting about my family’s well being.

I don’t know where I found that strenght and courage that morning. The strength to walk and to walk on my 3 1/2 inch- heels from turgeau to my house.

As I was walking, I saw dead people, some covered with a white blanket. There were people whose house had collapsed who were sitting in the streets, others were browsing the rubbles to find a chair, a comforter, a paper or any useful tool which was not damaged. Others were crying and mourning or asking other people to help them rescue a member of their family buried under the rubbles. Some buildings were cracked, some others disappeared. From turgeau through camille leon, bois verna, carrefour ti fou, avenue christophe, avenue n, cadet jeremie.I could see how terrible the earthquake was and It was obvious how thirty five seconds had done bad to my little Haiti.

As I got to the last stop before reaching my house, I started to feel indescribable emotions. Can I go away from my reality? And if my house collapsed? My mom is under the rubbles? Or already found but dead? And if it is Clara?! No, something told me that Clara was alive and safe. Then, let’s go back to mom! Can I really bear the pain to lose her? Well Annie, you cannot know if you don’t walk your house I told myself.

I took a last breath, made a last prayer then walked to my house….

First view: my house was standing. Thanks Jehovah, so my grandma is all right! Plus one family member still with me!

Second view: my cousins and my uncle and… My sister!!!! Yaaaay, my intuition was right! Clara is ok.

Then, I arrived home! Home, sweet home! All my family members all right and my house standing.

I have lost one cousin, my dear Dagobert aka Mike and a lot of friends.

Today just reminds me that I could have died as those 200,000 people but I’m a survivor.

to be continued…


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