Rockford Haitian relief group standing by to offer help, as earthquake death toll rises

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Dust from collapsed buildings fill the air in Haiti after an earthquake rocked the southwestern part of the country over the weekend. Over 1,200 people are confirmed dead.

A Rockford group, Hope for Haitians, is reaching out to help the citizens there.

“It’s a trauma for those who went through it and those who experienced it again,” said Hope for Haitians’ executive director, Chris Weickert, speaking of the earthquake that devastated Haiti in 2010.

“There’s a strong memory of that earthquake from 10 years ago, and it certainly trauma,” Weickert said. “It was also an immediate concern for the villages that we helped build.”

Weickert’s group built 16 villages in eight different Haitian communities after the last disaster.

“After the earthquake in 2010, we learned a lot about improving the construction’s reliability,” he said. “We’re trying to effect some permanent change in the communities where we work.”

Weickert says one of Hope for Haitian’s villages is 20 miles from the 7.2 magnitude quake’s epicenter.

“At this stage, we’re still waiting on information from them, about their condition. The roads between a lot of these places have been blocked by rock slides, and so heavy machinery will be needed to clear it out,” he said.

After the quake, dramatic rescues emerged on social media.

Friends of the Children clinical director, Linda Underwood, says neighbors help neighbors in Haiti. “A lot of the door-to-door, searching for bodies and stuff, [and finding those] who have been unharmed and live in those villages that were affected.”

Mark Schuller, President of Haitian Studies Association of Northern Illinois, says Haiti is going to need continuous help from other nations to recover.

“There’s going to be needs,” Schuller said. “People lost their homes, they lost their belongings, they lost their neighbors, their friends and family members. There’s going to be reasons to have funds three months out, six months out, not just right now.”

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