Anderson, Indiana

Anderson residents struggle to contact loved ones in Haiti after quake

Thu, 2010-01-14 09:20 -- univcomm
January 14, 2010

Anderson University student Rousseau Luzincourt spent Wednesday in turmoil, trying to find news about his sister living in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He scoured news and Internet accounts, trying to see if he could recognize neighborhoods devastated by Tuesday’s earthquake.

Rousseau Luzincourt“It’s been very tough ... it’s shocking to me because I don’t who in my family is there. People go to Port-au-Prince every day to take care of their daily means,” said Luzincourt, 29, a native Haitian who is seeking an education major and hopes to become a Spanish teacher.

Luzincourt received calls from friends asking about his family, including his parents who live three hours from the capital and brothers who live an hour away.

[PHOTO: Rousseau Luzincourt holds a picture of his sister and her daughter. Credit: John P. Cleary / The Herald Bulletin]

“People are calling me, asking me how can we help, what can we do. I cannot give them any answers because I haven’t been able to talk to anybody,” Luzincourt said.

"When I heard about the news, I never thought it would have such impact (on Haiti),” he said, “We had two hurricanes in 2008 and I said why Haiti, why Haiti?”

Good news online

An Internet posting from Haiti held mixed emotions Wednesday for Jacqueline Ackerman: “The Ackermans are safe ... Please continue to pray for the Ackermans and all of the people of Haiti, as it appears likely that casualties will be many.”

Her parents, John and Jodie Ackerman, perform mission work in Haiti for the Church of God (Anderson). Her sister, Jessica, is a high school senior there.

Jacqueline, an Anderson University graduate raised in Haiti, was among local residents trying to check on loved ones. Unable to reach her parents by phone, Jacqueline went to their Web site, totheleastofthese.org.

Her father, who operates a medical mission, and mother, who is a teacher, were safe; however, she recognized the devastation facing the country.

“This is going to be really overwhelming for the entire country. It seems like Haiti always has problems with hurricanes ... political turmoil,” she said from her Fishers home. “When I heard about the earthquake, I thought, oh, great, here is something else keeping them from becoming a democratic country like they need to be.”

Local man interviewed

Luke Renner, an Anderson native who is savvy with cameras, was interviewed early Wednesday on NBC, National Public Radio, and MSNBC, among others. He, his wife and two children live about 100 miles from Port-au-Prince. Renner, 34, operates a film and media school in a land where an entire community might share one television.

He told ABC News affiliate KGO-TV in San Francisco, “We were sitting in our house, checking the e-mail and things like that when all of a sudden the house started rocking and rolling and it was almost like the house itself was sitting on beach ball. It was very much like a gyroscope.”

With a degree in broadcasting from Anderson University, he is hoping to teach communication skills to residents of Cap Haitien. On Wednesday, he used his skills to talk about the disaster before grabbing his camera equipment and heading to the capital with a medical crew.

His father, Ancil Ray Renner of Anderson, talked with his son earlier Wednesday. “Even though he was 100 miles away, he said it was pretty frightening for 20 to 30 seconds. There were lots of screams in the community outside his door.”

Luke Renner is working on three projects in Haiti: HANDS Across Haiti, The Learning Village and The Caribbean Institute of Media Technologies. His Web site is firesideinternational.org.

Orphans sleep outside

Dr. Mark Fulton, an Anderson dentist, was in Haiti a month ago checking on a clinic and orphanage sponsored by Mission Haiti Midwest. He is president of the board.

The medical compound is located outside Port-au-Prince. “The clinic is still standing but what we’re finding out is that people who are hurt in the outlying areas are coming to our clinic,” Fulton said. “Our doctors are in Port-au-Prince. We don’t know if they’re dead or alive so we have nurses trying to serve the people there.”

After the Tuesday evening quake, mission workers slept outdoors with about 30 of the orphans. “They were afraid to sleep inside due to the chance of building collapse from aftershocks,” Fulton said.

Another concern: Many of the children were to be adopted by people in other countries. The paperwork, located in Port-au-Prince, may be beneath rubble.

More than 32,000 reasons for concern

The Church of God (Anderson) has 233 congregations and 32,000 constituents in Haiti led by national leader Phyllis Newby. As of Wednesday, Church of God Ministries had not received information about the extent of the effect of the quake on churches and constituents, said David Farlow, chief of strategic communications for Church of God Ministries, Inc.

One major ministry is the House of Blessings Orphanage; reports indicated that the orphans are safe and that the orphanage suffered little damage, though there was some damage to a school under construction, Farlow said. The Church of God compound operated by Phyllis Newby located outside of the capitol, home to the national offices and a hospital, suffered damage but not loss of life.

Donations are being accepted to the Disaster Relief Fund. Farlow said, “We anticipate the need in Haiti will be significant.”

Individuals can make donations online by visiting www.chog.org/DisasterRelief. Or they can mail checks to: Church of God Ministries, PO Box 2420, Anderson, IN 46018-2420. Write Project 45.04502 in the memo line.

— Scott L. Miley, is associate features editor at The Herald Bulletin. Reposted with permission.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2008, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the fourth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.