March 3, 2010

Updates on family trickle in

BETH QUIMBY

— By

Staff Writer

After sitting by the phone for more than 24 hours, Kamis and Roudy Ley of Brunswick finally got through on an Internet phone line Thursday to their relatives in Coteaux, Haiti.

Roudy Ley's brother, sister-in-law and aunt in Coteaux were OK. But his cousin, a university student in Port-Au-Prince, was injured, and his uncle was trying to find a way to bring her home.

Kamis Ley, who met her husband when she was a Peace Corps volunteer in Haiti, said the conversation was just long enough to establish those facts. She and her husband had no idea whether their relatives' homes withstood Tuesday's earthquake and what kind of dangers the family faced.

''It is a mixed blessing, knowing they are alive and well but not knowing what's ahead,'' Kamis Ley said.

They Leys were among the Mainers who continued to wait by phones and surf the Internet for any news of their friends and family members in Haiti. For many, the waiting didn't end Thursday.

''I have still not heard a word from anybody,'' said Moravia ''Tito'' Drice, who moved to Portland from Haiti in 2002.

Drice said only one of his Haitian friends in Maine had heard any news.

By the end of Thursday, Dudney Sylla, assistant director of residential life at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, where he graduated in 2008, still hadn't learned what happened to his grandmother, aunts, uncles and cousins in Port-Au-Prince. He was using all communication avenues, including his friends on the Facebook social networking Web site.

''It is a tough situation, especially since you don't feel like you can do anything,'' said Sylla.

On Thursday, Nate Nickerson, executive director of Konbit Sante, a Portland-based organization that provides medical support to the Justinian Hospital in Cap-Haitien, finally nailed down arrangements for a trip to the hospital Saturday.

He was planning to fly into Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic on Saturday, then take a bus or find someone to drive him across the border to Cap-Haitien, Haiti's second-largest city, about 100 miles north of Port-Au-Prince.

The Konbit Sante board started an earthquake relief fund with $25,000. Nickerson said information on the fund will be available soon on the Konbit Sante Web site, www.healthyhaiti.org.

By Thursday afternoon, Nickerson said, quake victims were arriving by air transport at the Justinian Hospital, where two dozen medical staffers are supported by the Portland organization.

After two days of searching, a family from Eddington got news of their daughter, a Colby College senior who was in Port-Au-Prince when the quake struck.

Jessica Frick, 21, and her friend and classmate Yanica Faustin of Brooklyn, N.Y., were unharmed and staying in a home with Faustin's relatives in the city's Bourdon district.

Others in Maine sifted through news accounts to glean hints of the fates of their friends.

One of them was Westbrook Police Chief William Baker, who spent 1998 working with the Haitian National Police as a senior adviser with the Department of Justice. Baker lived in Petion-Ville -- near the quake's epicenter -- where he left behind many friends and has returned several times.

Baker said he believes his friends may have escaped the worst because he noticed that the Hotel Villa Creole, where many of them lived and worked, had been turned into a triage center because it had escaped damage.

Bill and Ursula Slavick of Portland, who head the Haitian project at Sacred Heart St. Dominic Church, were waiting to hear from their friends, two nuns who work in the slums of Port-Au-Prince, teaching women how to sew. The women, Angela Belizair and Nadege Florian, were in Portland last fall.

The Haitian project supports a school at Notre Dame du Mont Carmel in Saut D'Eau, about 45 miles north of Port-au-Prince.

Slavick said he had learned that the school, which educates 75 children and provides them with school supplies and uniforms and a meal each day, was spared any damage from the earthquake.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

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

bquimby@pressherald.com

 

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