March 3, 2010

Haitians in Maine wait and pray


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click image to enlarge

Moravia “Tito” Drice, center, watches television reports Wednesday on the aftermath of the earthquake in his native Haiti. With Drice at his home in Portland are friends Jean Robert Dubois, left, and Mackenzy Saint Paulin.

John Ewing/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Mackenzy Saint Paulin watches televised reports of the earthquake damage in Haiti on Wednesday at the home of fellow Haitian Moravia “Tito” Drice in Portland.

John Ewing/Staff Photographer

Cap-Haitien is Portland's sister city and the second-largest city in Haiti, with a population of 180,000.

Based on third-hand reports via e-mail, it appeared that Cap-Haitien had no serious damage, Nickerson said.

Nickerson said it was possible that people who were injured in Port-au-Prince would be brought to the Justinian Hospital, because the public hospital in Port-au-Prince had been destroyed.

Nickerson was scrambling to rearrange a trip he had planned to Cap-Haitien later this week. Other Mainers who were scheduled to go to Haiti in the coming weeks were calling off their travels.

Sara Merrill, a member of St. Alban's Episcopal Church in Cape Elizabeth, was scheduled to travel Saturday to her church's partner parish, St. Luc's in Tour du Nord, 45 miles east of Cap-Haitien.

She said her group decided that because it is not part of the rescue effort and St. Luc's was spared major damage, it would be best to postpone the visit.

The Episcopal Diocese of Maine has strong ties to Haiti, which is home to the church's largest diocese, said Maine Bishop Stephen Lane. Thirteen Maine Episcopal parishes have relationships with Haitian parishes.

Sue Bernard, spokeswoman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Maine, said the church was awaiting word about Maine missionaries and laypeople in Haiti. The diocese plans a special collection this weekend to aid victims of the earthquake.

Portland became a sister city with Cap-Haitien in 2003. The formal agreement was to support the work of Konbit Sante, said Rachel Talbot Ross, Portland's director of equal opportunity and multicultural affairs.

Talbot Ross said the city planned to put a link on its Web site to Konbit Sante, and officials are encouraging donations through the International Red Cross.

Dave Thompson, chief executive officer of the American Red Cross of Southern Maine, said he has received inquiries from Haitians living in Maine who are looking for information on family members in the country.

The country is too unsettled to track down information at this point, he said, but the local chapter plans to do so as soon as possible.


Staff Writer Dennis Hoey contributed to this report.


Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:


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