A Message from Gressier, Haiti: “This morning the second parking lot baby was born”
by Abe Sauer
There is a lot of advice going around about what people can do to help in Haiti. The conventional advice is don’t give anything except money. This is good advice-unless you have a helicopter. If you have a helicopter or know of someone who has access to a helicopter, perhaps you can do something for one physician, one physician’s assistant and one optometrist cut off from assistance as they operate a makeshift operating room set up in a church in Gressier, about ten miles west of Port-au-Prince.
The trapped medical professionals are with Haiti Health Ministries. They live in the nation year-round providing clinic services for those Haitians with no other care options (which means, basically, everyone). This includes everything from pain management to labor and delivery care to “dental day,” which, as I’ve been told, is the day when they just pull teeth dawn until dusk. Two of those there are a couple with an infant daughter.
Contact with them is intermittent-but is never without the plea for supplies. Just a couple of the messages they have managed to get out:
A little before 5:00 yesterday the roar started. Something like a tornado, except the trees weren’t blowing — they were moving. And so was our truck and the ground and me. My reaction was something like — what was that? Earthquake! I’m glad everything is okay. I’ll put the groceries up now.
About then David ran up shouting “Is everybody okay?” and I realized I should be doing the same. I found Eleanor, she was just across the way and I could see her the whole time. Teresa had gone to the clinic so Dave and I took off running to check on people there. We found the Eye Clinic apartments had collapsed and were still collapsing. Jim and Sandy made it outside, if only barely, and dazed. I found Teresa and we shared a hug and some incredulity. We shouted for Nannie and she appeared from the new HHM building which was in ruins. Then we saw the school.
The high school had folded in half and was still cracking and spewing dust and glass. We ran over and shouted for survivors, but it looked the school had already completely emptied. We found some abandoned sandals, a bicycle thrown to the side in haste and a notebook computer face in the dust with its optical tray extended. Doug and I went back to the school later that night, but it was too dangerous to enter and the rooms looked empty.
I should have seen what was coming next, but for some reason none of us understood that the first injured person that showed up at the gate was just the beginning of steady stream that would continue into today. We gathered supplies from any structure we thought was safe and piled them in the grass parking area. Someone started separating the injured from the merely scared. We found and started a gas generator and powered two large fluorescent floodlights to illuminate our makeshift OR. We started cleaning, suturing and splinting and didn’t stop until 5:30 in the morning when we all lay down under the stars for the briefest of naps. Young and old were injured from head to toe and two dead were delivered to our gate. I held one lady’s head as she delivered at our gate. A little baby boy that Teresa and Amy massaged into life. This morning the second parking lot baby was born at the end of my driveway as we finished cleaning up my house. Teresa had about 10 minutes of sleep and is going full throttle today.
Thanks for all your prayers. People continue to show up, increasingly outside of our limits of care and we will soon run out of supplies. Many have asked how they can help. It would be difficult and daring to try to run to Haiti right now. Houses were not all that collapsed. It appears communications and infrastructure are crippled too. We believe that international relief organizations will appear soon and giving through them may be the best early option. Above all pray for God to hear the cries and answers. He is the only one big enough to hear all the suffering.
i’m ok, and so is Ryan and Nora [Eleanor]. our house sustained damage (cracks, flooding, everything off the shelves) but didn’t fall down. J. and S.’s house (where i used to live) fell down. so did part of the clinic, the eye clinic, and all of the schools. the guesthouse is still standing, as well as our house and David’s house. everyone else lost their house. we worked all night trying to help people, and are still working today. it’s like being in hell… people dying on your doorstep, limbs falling off, gashes and paralysis and everything you’d see in war. all the missionaries here are ok, only a few bumps and bruises as they scrambled to get out of their houses. Ryan and Nora and i were outside when it happened, so we were ok. that’s all the update i can give you for now, because i’ve got to go back to more chaos. thank the Lord E. is here to take care of Nora while Ryan and i work.
Now they are running out of supplies and with Monday’s untreated, non-life-threatening injuries becoming tomorrow’s mortal infections, their work is only starting.
Christian non-profit organization Agape has gathered supplies and has a plane and has agreed to fly to Port-au-Prince with supplies specifically for the makeshift OR in Gressier. But without a helicopter to get the supplies the few more miles from Port to Gressier, the stuff might as well be sitting in Poughkeepsie.
As of now, nobody knows they are there-not the Red Cross, not World Vision, not the incoming U.S. military-only a handful of Haitians and Americans, including the physician assistant’s sister in Minneapolis, who is calling anyone who might be able to help.
So: can you help? Probably not. But if you know anyone who knows anyone who might be able to help, please do what you can-and drop us a line.