Among those keeping an emotional vigil for earthquake-devastated Haiti are members of Red Deer church groups that have lent their support to projects in the impoverished nation.
CrossRoads Church member Keith Blain was part of a mission to the country last October and planned to return next month.
Blain struggled to put into words his thoughts on the unfolding tragedy.
“It’s been an emotional roller coaster,” he said quietly Wednesday. “The need is so great and yet there is so little we can do.”
Little information has been available, but Blain was able to find out that members of a church team of six adults and 17 students from Nelson, B.C. were safe.
Church members do not want to say too much at this point because there is so little information coming from the country where the quake toppled phone and power lines, he said.
“We don’t know for sure much for details from the compound we’ve been at and that everybody who is there is OK,” he said of the site about 80 km from Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince. “We don’t know how our best way to proceed is right now. And at some point in time we will (put together) something for relief but we’re not sure how and when.
“Everybody here is kind of in a wait and see position right now because communications is very slim.”
A CrossRoads team was to go back to Haiti in February. It is too soon to say whether that will go ahead.
Even if it does, the focus will be much changed given the scale of the disaster, Blain predicted.
“Everybody’s role has changed here right now. Even the team that’s going, they won’t be doing what they initially planned on doing.”
Red Deer Liberty Church has a project in the same community as CrossRoads Church.
Pastor George Bradley said they have not been able to reach the pastor who is their contact at the orphanage they help support. But his brother, who is the pastor at the nearby project where CrossRoads has provided support, has said they are OK there.
“Indications were that right where they are might be all right, comparatively, to what’s going on there,” he said.
Liberty Church administrator Dwayne Hillman visited the orphanage in 2005 and his heart goes out to residents of the nation where many live in shanties and those buildings made of stone and concrete are often not well constructed.
The sorts of emergency services, fire trucks, cranes and other heavy equipment that Canadians could rely on when disaster strikes simply don’t exist, he said.
“Knowing what I know from down there, everybody that would have been in the buildings that were trapped would have been trapped through the night.
“People would have been trying to dig them out in the dark because of course they would have lost whatever power they hand in Port-au-Prince.”
Equipment had to be brought in from other countries to deal with the aftermath of 2008 hurricanes.
Hillman has watched as the tragedy unfolds on TV.
“My heart really aches because of what they have gone through in their history,” he said, referring to previous hurricane damage.
“To have this kind of devastation is absolutely horrendous. And not having the resources to walk through and get it up and running is even worse.
“Because there are people who are going to die basically because they can’t get to them. Whereas if they had resources some of these slabs (of concrete) could be removed.”
Medical help will also be in short supply.
“It’s just a real tragedy.”