“The streets are still thronged with homeless people walking for hours to find food and water. As well as widespread destruction of homes, schools and other buildings, major damage has been done to key water, electricity, and road systems,” the ACT Alliance said in a January 18 report.
The alliance quoted Prospery Raymond, country manager for ACT-member Christian Aid, as saying he was concerned that without deliveries from outside there might not be enough food in the country to last more than a few days.
Tens of thousands of Haitians are feared dead following the 7.0 magnitude quake that struck near the capital of Port-au-Prince on January 12.
Rain has compounded the situation of the million people without shelter. The border with the Dominican Republic remains insecure, the ACT Alliance said. Health risks from contagious diseases are becoming serious. Other towns are also badly affected, and many areas outside Port-au-Prince remain unexplored. An unknown number of staff members from ACT members in the country remain unaccounted for, the alliance said.
Among those reported dead is Sam Dixon, head of the New York-based United Methodist Committee on Relief, which is an ACT member. UMCOR reported on January 16 that Dixon had died. He was in the country to plan improvements to medical services in Haiti. A day later, the agency reported that Clinton Rabb, who had been with Dixon and other church officials at the hotel, had also died from his injuries.
Quoted by the United Methodist News Service, Debbie Vest, a United Methodist Church coordinator of mission volunteers, said, “We have lost two outstanding individuals. I can readily understand the grief of the Haitians and the sadness of the people you see on the street because those are our faces as well.”
On January 17, Haitians, whose society is deeply religious, took to the streets, many of them praying and spending “the morning searching for spiritual solace,” The New York Times reported.
Outdoor services and prayer gatherings were numerous because many churches have been completely destroyed. Among them was the Episcopal cathedral in Port-au Prince, Cathédrale Sainte Trinité, a renowned building with murals depicting the life of Jesus. It is now reduced to dust and heaps of rubble.
Among those on the streets of Port-au-Prince was Raphael Dessieu, a former president of the Methodist Church of Haiti, who was able to send a message to U.S. colleagues via e-mail earlier in the week. “My family and I are alive, sleeping in the street, as home and items are all gone,” he wrote, quoted by the UNMS. “It is not safe, so please pray.”