Wednesday, January 20, 2010


In late 1994, I rode out a hurricane off the coast of Haiti, onboard the US Army vessel LSV-1. The hardest part of the storm hit overnight, and when not on watch we spent the time trying to make ourselves as flat as possible on the decks of the engine room...the lowest point of the vessel, with the least amount of rocking. Didn't matter, we were all sick anyway. The next day we returned to Port-au-Prince, loaded the ship with Red Cross trucks carrying food, medicine, etc., and steamed as fast as we could (not very fast, in our case) to Jacmel, in the south. Jacmel had taken a direct hit from the storm, and was in terrible shape. Voodoo Lounge was of course a novel, but the telling of that hurricane and the condition of Jacmel when we found it was all accurate.

It's a strange thing to watch TV and see buildings that I have seen (or, in some cases, been in) flattened to the ground. The entire view of Port-au-Prince has changed...the cathedral, the Presidential palace. As for Jacmel, beautiful Jacmel, I haven't seen pictures of the town, but can't imagine what an earthquake would do to the city. It's such a fragile place, Jacmel.

I'd wanted to post today some options for $$ aid, and some good reading about Haiti. Karen Kleckner at the Library Journal beat me to it. On her one page she has both...a link to 2 lists of aid options, and a good list of Haiti reading. (The Library Journal list is all novels. In addition, I highly recommend Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder.) Please do what you can, and read a good book while you do it. Haiti is one of those countries that is so easy to assume you understand...but nobody understands. Certainly not until you've been there, and even then, not really. Broadening understanding of our troubled neighbor to the south is a good first step in helping them.