Two Weeks Amid the Rubble – Haiti Earthquake

Two weeks ago today a magnitude 7.2 earthquake wreaked havoc on the southwestern part of Haiti where the St. Gabriel the Archangel twin parish of Ste. Anne is located. The earthquake damaged all of the buildings on the parish campus, including the church, rectory, school, and clinic. The first update and initial report from the St. Gabriel Haiti Committee can be found here:

First Update: https://monalisaliveshere.me/2021/08/21/update-one-week-later-haiti-earthquake-2021/

Initial report: https://monalisaliveshere.me/2021/08/15/haiti-earthquake-2021-a-report-from-the-st-gabriel-the-archangel-haiti-committee/(opens in a new tab)

The quake killed more than 2,200 Haitians and upended the lives of 800,000 people in three regional departments: the Southwest, Nippes and the Grand’Anse. Our twin parish, St. Anne in Sucrerie Henry, is in the Southwest department. At this time there have not been any fatalities at St. Anne, but there have been many injuries and most of the parish is homeless, sleeping in fields because their homes are unsafe. The pastor, Father (Pere) Joseph Didier continues to sleep in his truck.

Jesus with broken hands

This second update is difficult to write. One of our St. Gabriel Haiti Ministry Committee members periodically works in Haiti on construction projects. Using his contacts in Haiti, he asked a structural engineer to visit St. Anne parish this week to assess the damage. His contact took photos of what he saw from a structural perspective, which I will share in this post. The damage is way worse than we thought. His professional assessment confirms that none of the campus buildings can be occupied and all will have to be replaced.

Church

Our committee met on Monday 8/23 and decided to send almost everything we had in our ministry bank account so the parish could contribute to the immediate housing, food, drinkable water, and sanitation needs of the parishioners. We are working on fundraising to send more money and to contribute to the rebuilding of the church, school, clinic, and rectory. Our first event, a dinner, is taking place on September 8. Information and donation opportunities can be found at this link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/fundraising-dinner-tickets-167369459559

Church

To see a front page article by Bill Doyle about our efforts on behalf of our twin parish in Haiti, visit this link: https://digital.catholicfreepress.org/Catholic-Free-Press-08272021-e-Edition/1/

To see a recent article about US humanitarian aid to Haiti earthquake victims, visit this link: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/haiti/article253766063.html

With the following photos, I’d like to attempt to show the earthquake destruction of the buildings by pairing photos from our 2018 and earlier visits with the photos the structural engineer took this week.

Before: St. Anne Church 2018

Before
Before
2009
2009

After – St. Anne Church 2021:

After
After
After – St. Anne Church
After – St. Anne Church

Before – St. Anne Infirmary and Dispensary 2009 and 2018:

Clinic 2009
Clinic 2018
Clinic 2009

After – St. Anne Infirmary and Dispensary:

Clinic 2021
Clinic 2021
Clinic 2021

Before – Kindergarten, Primary, and Secondary schools 2009 and 2018:

Pere Didier at the school gate in 2018
2018
2018
2018

After – Kindergarten, Primary, and Secondary schools 2021:

After – 2021
After – 2021 – note the makeshift tents in which people are living in the schoolyard
2021
2021

Before – St. Anne Rectory

Rectory front door – 2009
Rectory deck – 2018
Rectory deck – 2018

After – Rectory 2021

2021
2021

The second floor of the rectory collapsed in the earthquake, crushing the first floor. We have stayed on the second floor of the rectory and have had meals and Mass on the second floor deck. We have also had meals on the first floor of the rectory, meals prepared by the community, who often give from their sparse reserves to accommodate us.

Dinner in the rectory 2009

I try to be a reporter with these posts but in seeing this batch of photos that truly shows the devastation of the buildings, it is difficult to report objectively. We have a long road ahead of us to rebuild this parish.

All photos by Alice Gentili except those taken in 2021, which are contributed.

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