I am on board the Mississippi National Guard, C-17 Military transport jet travelling back to Florida after what was probably the most stressful week of my life. Amidst the stress, it was also perhaps the most amazing week of my life too. As I sit among about 100 passengers, many relief workers such as myself, and the rest are Haitian refugees, I am having difficulty processing everything I just experienced. I saw destruction and death like I had never seen it before, but I also saw resilience and hope unlike I had ever known. At times, I felt overwhelming anxiety and fear, but there were moments of total peace and serenity between the horrific sights and sounds. I’m sure it will take some weeks to really wrap my mind around what I have just seen in Haiti, so expect more posts in the coming days. I have so much that I want to say about my experiences, but I cannot even put it into context to begin to write. One thing is certain though...what I saw in Haiti has changed me, and I will never be the same again. For now, I just want to post the few photos I was able to take (as electricity and opportunities to charge my camera battery were rare). I will leave out the gruesome ones out of respect for the dead and injured.
“We learn geology the morning after the earthquake.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
The charter plane we took from Fort Lauderdale
Me with Patricia of American Airlines and Vanessa of Angel Missions Haiti prior to departure
Beautiful are the feet...
Vanessa and I settle in for the flight in the cabin of the airplane
We had a 15 minute layover in the tiny Bahamas island airport on the way to Haiti
Structural Damage to St Joseph's Home and Vanessa's place (Where we stayed at night)
Me pumping cistern water through the filter for drinking later on
One of the many tent cities that had sprung up all over the city:
We made rounds here, mostly looking at wounds and other minor medical problems
I know you have seen pictures of the damage on CNN already, but what these photos cannot capture is the extensive and pervasive destruction the earthquake left. Buildings looked like this EVERYWHERE, some entire blocks just gone. And what you can't see is that as you would walk by these buildings, you could smell rotting bodies still trapped inside. CNN has focused on people pulled from the rubble, but this has been only 100 or so people. When you look around, what you really see is how much death this earthquake caused.
Nos Petits Freres et Soeurs (Our Little Brothers and Sisters) Haiti Hospital
This pediatric hospital had been temporarily converted to a general hospital, and we were able do the most surgery here. Mostly I did wound debridement, burn care, and amputations.
Courtyard of the Little Hospital
Patients overflowed from the hospital's wards into the grounds in tents and make-shift wards
I think this was a consent form, but my french is rusty...
Even people with homes that were standing were reluctant to sleep in doors fearing more aftershocks, and many were sleeping outside on the streets.
This was suppose to be the new Angel Missions Surgi-Center, but most of the new surgical equipment was on the 3rd floor stuck under that collapsed ceiling.
I rumaged around the first two floors to find enough supplies to help with the clinic/infirmary that Joanne eventually set up at the site
I had to leave earlier than planned due to some unforseen repercussins of me leaving Boston so suddenly. This is the military C-17 jet that took us home (A little faster than on the way in)
This is the Mississippi Air National Guard C-17 transporter. Previously, I have not been a fan of Mississippi, but my feelings changed drastically today.
Boarding the plane at Port Au Prince airport
Something interesting happened when we boarded. Most of the relief workers elected to sit on the floor, and gave the seats to Haitian refugees. It was a spontaneous, but beautiful moment.
Me and another surgeon from San Diego ready to fly home
Beautiful are the feet...okay maybe smelly are the feet after wearing these boots for close to a week
Arrival in Orlando around sunset: God Bless America!