Citizens For A Better Norwood

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Rick Hursh's account & video of the Haitian earthquake

First, let me thank everyone for your thoughts and prayers. Your generous outpouring of concern was a comfort to Sheri during those hours after the quake and the days that followed.

Grace UMC church in Norwood has had a long history of service in Haiti. Members have been service in that mission field as long ago as the early 70's. Our current Pastor Kevin Jobe went to Haiti when he was a teenager at the church. More recently we have been sending members to Haiti with our sister church in Sharonville under the direction and supervision of Christian Services International. These teams, combined with the efforts of other teams from primarily the Midwest, have been with the blessing of God, building and maintaining a school for about 200 students, an orphanage for 20 girls, and a medical center.

For the past couple of years we have been building a parsonage and a church, which is what we were working on during this trip. Our team consisted of 11 members, 8 from Sharonville, Matt and me from Norwood, and the remaining members were from Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist church. In addition, we were combined with a construction Team from Pioneer Methodist Church in Michigan. After two days’ work on the church, our team was scheduled to have dinner at the orphanage with the girls while the Pioneer team headed back to the mission house in Port-au-Prince.

The earthquake hit while the team was preparing to eat with the girls. We were able to help get the children out of the building, put out a small fire in the kitchen from a broken gas line, and make what repairs we could to the facility to help save water that was running from a storage tank. It was quickly determined that the medical center about 50 yards away was in better condition after the quake so we helped move the girls to that location.

At the medical center, three of the team members worked with injured residents who came to the center for treatment. Normally, the center is staffed during the day with a Haitian doctor and several nurses, but they were not at the clinic at the time of the quake. The rest worked to restore water and get the center back in operation. Victims were treated as best as they could be until supplies were exhausted and attempts were made to get other to local hospitals. Those few hours after the quake will probably be the hardest for the team members to deal with.

The next day and for the rest of the week, we worked on restoring water to the medical center and rebuilding the walls needed for security. Half of the Pioneer construction team came to the medical center to lead the effort while the other half stay in Port-au-Prince to help with the mission house. None of the buildings that have been a part of our projects over the years collapsed from the quake. Two are severely damaged and may have to be replaced. Some may attribute this to the construction skills of the teams, but most of us give credit where credit is due and simply give thanks to God for our protection.

Because Christians Services International has been in Haiti for decades they have been able to operate at a time and under the kinds of conditions that challenge the efforts of the biggest powers in the world. As our week was completed, we were able to leave and be replaced by a medical team which is better suited for the task at hand. In addition, the school will be converted for temporary housing and food center for the people in the area. The orphans are currently staying at the medical center, but the long term solutions for the orphanage and the Missions house will have to be addressed. If you have a desire to help them in their efforts, please contact them through this website. Please also keep the people of Haiti and those who were effected by this quake in your prayers as they deal with the disaster in the next days, weeks, months and years.

Thanks again for all your concerns and prayers.

Rick Hursh

For more about Rick’s experiences in Haiti, be sure to watch him and his son Matt interviewed in this Channel 5 piece that aired yesterday afternoon and this remarkable 1 ½ minute video Rick took of the earthquake in progress with Matt playing with the orphans just as the building began to shake.