There is good news and no news today for New Yorkers with relatives still missing in Haiti following Tuesday's devastating earthquake. Two NYU doctoral students who arrived just a day before the earthquake have been located, following several tense days of waiting. Nathalie Pierre, 24, of Brooklyn and Greg Childs, from South Carolina, were found safe, and flown from Port-au-Prince to the Dominican Republic by the US Coast Guard. And Brooklyn cab driver Pierre Coimin, who had been agonizing over the fate of his 4-year-old daughter, finally heard word from his daughter through the NY Post, which sent a reporter to Coimin with a photo of the girl, her mother, and the message, "Tell Daddy I love him." Others were not so lucky.
The Daily News checked in yesterday with Yvette St. Louis, a medical assistant who was about to go to Haiti to rendezvous with her brother, two sisters and seven other relatives, and bury her mother. Since the earthquake, she has not heard from anyone. "I wish I was there, I wish I had died with them!" St. Louis cried out. "All of them are missing." In Sheepshead Bay, nurse Mathilde Louissaint is waiting to hear from a sister, two brothers, and eight nieces and nephews. "I had to leave work because I was having chest pains," Louissaint told the News. "I can't take it anymore. It's hurting my heart. I stay up late watching the news, and when I try to sleep, everything I've seen on TV, I see in my dreams."
An online registry and toll-free hotline to gather the names of New Yorkers in Haiti during Tuesday's earthquake went live today. They'll offer ways to register the names of missing people and collect contact information which will be shared with aid organizations. The hot line number is 1-888-769-7243; it's staffed from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.
Time is running out for those still trapped in the rubble, but staff members of an American aid agency were recently rescued by French rescue workers after spending more than 50 hours trapped under debris at the damaged Hotel Montana in Port-au-Prince, the Baltimore Sun reports. And the Lede has BBC video of the courtyard of the capital city’s main hospital, which has become a makeshift ward. Guy LaRoche, a hospital manager says, "Usually we have 150 doctors for the hospital, now I don’t have 20 — I don’t have 20 doctors now." Regarding the death toll, Alex Thomson of Channel 4 News writes in an e-mail:
In any other earthquake, three days on, you would have a reasonably credible figure for the number of people killed. As I write some news channels are saying 50,000 are dead. That is bunk. They don’t know. The UN does not know (beyond confirming it has lost 36 staff) and the British minister Douglas Alexander whom I’ve just interviewed, also does not know. In the 21st century it tells you so much about how broken Haiti was before the quake and how much more broken it is after, that this basic kind of information is not yet at hand - even in rough form.
Two aftershocks of approximately 4.5 magnitude rumbled through Haiti at about 4 a.m. and 8:40 a.m. today, frightening survivors throughout the capital again. Meanwhile, the first wave of American troops arrived overnight to provide security for aid delivery, and 9,000 to 10,000 were expected in Haiti by Monday, the Times reports. The United Nations says that one of its food warehouses in the capital had been looted but most of its provisions were recovered. At a press conference this morning, the head of the Doctors Without Borders mission in Haiti said 40 tons of medical supplies are on the way. Two new operating facilities will be set up in the next 48 hours, including an emergency inflatable hospital due to arrive in Haiti on Saturday.
You can donate to Doctors Without Borders here, and here is New York State's official website for donations. Mayor Bloomberg announced yesterday that soon city workers will have the option of donating part of paychecks to Haiti earthquake relief, and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn predicted if every city worker donated a dollar over the next two months, the city could hand over $1.2 million to relief efforts. President Obama has agreed to write a cover story on Haiti for the January 25th issue of Newsweek, hitting newsstands on Monday.