'Miracles Still Exist Here': Eyewitnesses Report on the Devastation in Haiti

As we leave our families with heavy hearts, we know that millions in Haiti have even heavier hearts as they bear the burden of this tragedy both personally and as a country.

I saw firsthand the destruction and loss of life and it is incredible. I cannot fully describe the scene and I am still trying to process it all myself ... Four large hospitals destroyed, and all hospitals damaged ... I saw two working gas stations but each had run out of fuel by the time we left. I saw dead bodies everywhere, lining streets, lying in rubble, piled on street corners, and being slowly carried away by men with carts. I saw people erupting in joy at the news their loved ones survived and I saw families erupting with grief as they learned of the loss of their family, the scene repeated itself thousands of times all over the city. I saw thousands upon thousands of people sitting and lying in the streets unable or too scared to enter the shelter of the buildings left standing. I slept outside with many people and listened to the sweet sound of relief planes arriving and carrying hope more than anything else. I listened as thousands of people cried out to God and even praised him. I felt ashamed at my lack of faith as they sang, “Tout bagay déjà byen,” "All things are already good.” Unbelievable. I counted people as we stood and waited along the road out of Port au Prince. The average was 81 people per minute heading north, with that average, over 14,000 people passed by me on their way out, many unsure where they will go. I’m sure you have all seen pictures and heard the news stories but the reality is astonishing and will worsen in these first days of this tragedy.

The needs are enormous. I wondered this morning how you take nothing from nothing. Someone said yesterday, “If Port-au-Prince is broken, Haiti is broken,” and that is correct ... The availability of all supplies here is decreasing or gone and the means to get supplies here is crippled. Diesel fuel is nearly gone and the price has nearly doubled. Diesel is $5 a gallon and a gallon of gasoline is now $12.50 in many places ... Without diesel fuel we have no electricity, no transportation. and no water at the hospital. Most of the rice, flour, sugar here in Pignon is gone or disappearing fast. Many vendors hoped they would have more tomorrow from Cap Haitien so we will see. We could find a little rice, and could only buy sugar in small quantities and could not find flour. We purchased enough supplies this morning to last about a month. Food, water, medical supplies, and fuel will be the main concern all over Haiti.

Yesterday, we arrived early into Jacmel, set up camp with tents, food supplies, water filtration, and medical supplies. We dispatched teams to Hospital Saint Michel to begin work. CCH's team of 5 surgeons and 1 nurse (Dr. Russell Seneca, Dr. Ted Alexander, Dr. Ron Holt, Dr. Joe Sakrun, Dr. Jim French, and Katy Goss) began the overwhelming task of assessing the wounded. A team of Canadian paramedics had also arrived. The hospital staff was absent due to the mourning of their tragic personal loss. The team completed several surgeries, including amputations of a little girl's hand and a young woman's arm. The tragedy of injury and lives changed, became real and tangible. An 18-day-old infant was pulled from the rubble after 8 days alone and isolated beneath the concrete. Miracles still exist here as people band together to help each other and mend their country's brokenness.

That evening, we returned to "tent city" as patients tried to sleep amidst wailing, crying, and desperation. The U.N. had arrived to set up a triage tent among the flowing mosquito nets, tarps, and beds. Many of the hospital walls are collapsed, tiny iron cribs lying among the rubble.

As our team awoke this morning beneath a still starlit sky and began gathering supplies for the day, we felt what Haiti has felt for nine days now ... quaking that has not only broken its infrastructure, but has broken its heart. The quake was immediately followed by crying as more structures collapsed and families screamed in fear. Then the daily task of survival began again.