Remembering Haiti Two Years After the Earthquake

We’re all on shaky ground. For proof, consider the rogue earthquake that shook the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions this past August. As the shoreline swayed on that sunny day in Avalon, N.J., there was talk of tsunamis. My mother turned quickly around in her seat by the ocean, assuming someone was shaking her chair as a joke.

It was no joke. Earthquakes never are. The 5.9-magnitude tremor had hit outside Richmond, Va., and was felt as far north as Canada. It was just one of many freak occurrences in a bizarre weather year.

A video still of David Sacks in Haiti.It also made me think of Haiti, where, two years ago this month, a 7.0 monster rattled the struggling nation to its core on Jan. 12. An estimated 3 million people were affected by the catastrophe. Though the numbers have been disputed, the Haitian government reported about 316,000 dead, 300,000 injured and at least 1 million without homes; 250,000 residences and 30,000 commercial buildings either collapsed or were severely damaged.

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Main Line Today contributor David Sacks was there with his camera in the days following the quake. A selection of the photos he took can be found in “Hope for Haiti,” which captures the boundless warmth, energy and resolve of its people, even in the face of unimaginable adversity.
 

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“I didn’t have to walk more than a few steps in Port-au-Prince to see the resiliency of the human spirit nearly everywhere I looked,” recalls Sacks. “People who suffered great loss were working hard, carrying water and cleaning their tents.”

Much of what he saw was also harrowing. “During a midnight thunderstorm, I saw a woman bathing a 6-month-old baby in a pothole by the side of a busy street,” he says. “Even people who owned homes that hadn’t collapsed lived in tents for fear that their houses could still collapse due to structural damage.”

But while hardship was everywhere, so were smiles. “The Haitians I met were friendly, gracious and quick to laugh,” says Sacks. “They welcomed me into their homes and tents, and seemed proud of their immaculate condition.”

Such joy in the face of tragedy was also on full display in the streets. “It would be difficult to calculate exactly how many soccer games are being played on an average afternoon in Port-au-Prince, but it must number in the hundreds, if not thousands,” says Sacks. “Though circumstances were dire, most people were hopeful and looked forward to Haiti’s future.”

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And so do we.

See also “Maria Bello: Actress, Philanthropist, Kickboxer, Mother and More.”

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