- Haitian PM Jean-Max Bellerive believes 100,000 may be dead. Senator Youri Latortue believes the figure may be closer to 500,000. Both admit they don't know for sure.
- Doctors Without Borders reports that all hospitals in Port-au-Prince are gone. Not damaged. Not without power. Gone.
- The main prison in Port-au-Prince has collapsed and there are reports of escaped inmates.
- The parking lot of the Hotel Villa Creole has been turned into a triage center. The International Red Cross reports that one-third of Haiti's 9 million people - 3 million persons - may require emergency aid.
- The commander of a U.S. Coast Guard cutter is reporting that the port is heavily damaged.
- The Port-au-Prince airport was unable to accept flights in the first hours after the quake because the traffic control tower was not communicating.
I confess that my mind is simply not able to comprehend such devastation. But I think that it is helpful to read these reports, view the photos, watch the news coverage, and imagine yourself there. First, because it helps you to be compassionate for what these poor people are going through - please donate to the relief effort if you can. Second, because it may help you to find areas of your own disaster planning that could use improvement.
As I write this, it's less than 24 hours after the quake, which occurred at 4:53 p.m. local time. I imagine that I am there. I would have been at work. I probably would have been trapped in rubble, and if I escaped, I most likely would have been separated from my emergency kit no matter where I had stored it - in my office (buried in rubble) or in my car (buried under tons of concrete in a pancaked garage). I would be without a cell phone to call home. I would have to try to walk five miles home (to an apartment that likely no longer exists) over rubble, concrete, and broken glass with only the three-inch-heels on my feet and the dirty, torn clothes on my back. I would sleep in the street on whatever soft material I could find, afraid to go into any of the damaged structures around me. I would not have anything to eat until Red Cross arrives, probably two days from now.
Honestly, I don't know how you can plan for this sort of disaster. When buildings are not up to code and everything collapses, there's nowhere you can go and nothing you can stash that will help you except, possibly, for whatever is in your pockets when the building comes down. As much as we all strive to be independent and prepared, sometimes all you can rely on is your faith in God and the charity of others.