Schools, hospitals, homes, towns and lives were destroyed without warning.

The biggest earthquake to hit Port-au-Prince, Haiti in over 200 years took the world by surprise on Jan. 12, just before 5 p.m. The death toll climbed to almost 200,000 in a population of over nine million people because of the 7.0 earthquake. Haiti was not only hit once. The aftershock, which had a reported range from 5.9 to 6.1 on the scale, was the biggest of Haiti’s more than a reported 40 aftershocks.

It has become one of the most major natural disasters we’ve seen in our lifetime and many countries are coming up with ways to try and help those in Haiti who have lost everything.

There have been countless updates on the news about what Haitians are going through and have heard many stories of the people who got out who had to leave their families behind. For Stony Brook University freshman Oli Brutus, that is also the case.


Brutus went to the island over winter break to visit his family and relax before school went back into session. He was there for three weeks and left an hour before the quake hit.

“I got to the US and then all of a sudden everyone started calling,” Brutus said. “The house was okay but everything inside was broken.”

Brutus said that it became difficult to get in touch with his family because there is only one cell phone company there.

“My mom, dad, aunts, grandparents, and a lot of cousins are over there,” he said. “I spoke with my mother later and found out that everyone else is ok. There were a lot of friends that I have there that I couldn’t get in touch with. My friend’s grandmother died and I know a few of them were in the hospital.”


Brutus described how Haiti doesn’t have real firefighters. They only really have the police and the United Nations.

“Haitians who live there didn’t have much as it was,” he said. “There are people who live in the mountains who built their own homes and they weren’t built properly like the ones here. The quake destroyed those homes. ThoseHelp ha people already had so little, and now they don’t have anything.”

24 hours after the quake hit, the Red Cross had already run out of supplies for the people. It has been a week since the quake and help still isn’t arriving fast enough. Bodies are still trapped in rubble, and the smell of the deceased takes hold of the air because they can’t bury the dead fast enough.

Acts of violence and looting have been highly reported, the airport is maxed out of space and it’s hard to get flights in and out quickly, and there are still many, many people missing. Luckily, that is not the case for Gabrielle Jasmin, a junior at Stony Brook, who was there when the quake hit.

“It was very abrupt,” Jasmin said. “I was in my house when everything started shaking violently. I tried to run out, but I was pulled back and told to hang on to a door pane. You could see the earth moving in a wave. All the walls were collapsed and I heard so many people screaming.”


Because the quake hit just before 5 p.m. and the sun sets around 6 p.m. in Haiti, the people had to deal with the disaster in the dark.

“It was very dusty,” Jasmin said. “I had to walk two miles to my grandmother’s house and I remember seeing a lot of people trying to get to the hospital. They barricaded the streets so that no cars could drive through so that people could walk freely.”

Jasmin went to Haiti on Jan. 1 for a medical mission trip and lost three people that she knew.

“The hardest part of all of this was overcoming the fear,” she said. “Fear that you might not go home, or see your parents. No one knew what was going on. There was a lot of praying and waiting for loved ones. Since the phones were down you couldn’t contact your family, the only way you knew if they were ok was if they walked into the room.”

More than 25 countries have contributed to the relief effort and U.S. private donors account for more than $275 million. This past Friday, the all-star “Hope for Haiti Now” telethon raised $57 million and counting.

“People lost everything,” she said. “Give whatever you can because they are just living off of handouts now.”


Dexter Daniel, junior and president of the Haitian Student Organization, is one of the many students to start organizing events on campus for the relief efforts.

“During the first two weeks of school, Jan. 25 to Feb. 5,” he said, “we are collecting donations such as bottled water, canned foods, clothes, and anything else students can give. We are contacting other school organizations to help with their events such as the Caribbean Student Organization and Black Womyn’s Weekend. I know that BWW also wants to hold a candle light service for those who were lost.”


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