Local residents wait for news from Haiti

Triangle residents continued to wait Thursday on word regarding their loved ones in Haiti, as one of the largest relief efforts in recent history is under way in the small Caribbean nation.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Triangle residents continued to wait Thursday on word regarding their loved ones in Haiti, as one of the largest relief efforts in recent history is under way in the small Caribbean nation.

"That's all I do all day long, all night long – is wait for some call," said Marie Lamartiniere, who hasn't heard from her five sisters since the country was left in ruins Tuesday following a 7.0 magnitude earthquake – the strongest to hit in more than 200 years.

The damage from the quake and a series of aftershocks in and surrounding Port-au-Prince have affected the lives of as many as 3 million people – a third of the country's population – and destroyed most of the capital city's major landmarks.

Officials still aren't sure the extent of deaths – an estimated 45,000 to 50,000 are feared dead, including Americans..

With electricity knocked out in many places and phone service erratic, it has been difficult, if not impossible, for some to make contact.

Lamartiniere and Estime Noelma, who's waiting to hear from his parents and siblings, have sat by the TV, looking for something or someone they recognize.

"Last night, I saw my brother on CNN," Lamartiniere said. "That's how I knew that he's alive."

"This situation is very bad," Noelma, keeping his phone in his hand, added.

The Charles family in Wake Forest is also waiting.

"It's been very, very stressful," said Alix Charles. "The more time that goes by, the worse we're feeling."

Two of Charles's wife's aunts died in the earthquake and another aunt was severely injured. He's desperately trying to reach other relatives, including his sister.

"We don't know where she is," Charles said. "She was at home in Haiti. There's no telling. We call the numbers – no response."

Over at St. Augustine's College, which has launched a campus-wide effort so send aid to victims, Martinne Deronette is one of several students with family connections in the country.

"It's affected us a whole lot," Deronette said of herself and her twin sister, Martinna. "We're worried. We're trying to keep faith. We're praying every day."

Prayer was the focus of a candlelight vigil at Christ Church in Raleigh Thursday night.

Visitors could light a candle and send a prayer to victims of the earthquake.

The event was organized yesterday and publicized through the Internet. Interim Rector Peter Hogg said prayer was needed as the opportunity to find survivors dwindles.

Parishioner Holly Roberts described the events in Haiti as “pretty frightening.”

“It is very devastating for the families and I hope they can somehow connect with their relatives,” Roberts said.

Seth Bain, of Holly Springs, said he and his wife have lost four family members in Haiti and are desperately trying to reach other relatives.

For the past eight months, Bain has been broadcasting an hour long religious radio program from his home studio that can be heard in Haiti via the Internet.

Bain hasn't been able to broadcast his radio show since the earthquake. He is hoping to have technical issues worked out for a broadcast Thursday night.

Bain said he hopes the show, which normally airs from 11 p.m. to midnight, will offer some type of comfort to a people struggling to survive.


Seeking information about a loved one? The U.S. State Department has established a hotline for Americans seeking information about family members in Haiti: 1-888-407-4747.


Beau Minnick, Reporter
Ken Smith, Reporter
Adam Owens, Reporter
Greg Hutchinson, Photographer
Kelly Gardner, Web Editor
Kathy Hanrahan, Web Editor

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