April 30th, 2010
You think you’re prepared, but you’re not.
I’ve seen the newscasts, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and CNN, read the magazine and papers. I’d seen hundreds of pictures from previous Shock Trauma teams in Haiti. But it didn’t prepare me for actually seeing it in person for first time.
The magnitude, the tents, the roads, the people, their look not of despair or desperation but more of survival, the dogs, the everything can’t be translated adequately into 2-dimensions. It takes on a completely different feel. Even flying in as you first begin to see some of the destruction, you don’t fully comprehend. The altitude allows you to remain disconnected from it, unemotionally above it all.
The Planet Airways plane on the tarmack was really the first time in struck that it was going to be different. It didn’t look like it had been used since the quake (or longer) but there it was sitting on a prime piece of tarmack space, it looked different than in the pictures I had seen.
The throngs of men wanting to help with our bags was overwhelming and scary as we traveled out of the airport to the cars. Far more than the pushy ones you see waiting outside other Caribbean airport, both in numbers and aggressiveness. Driving to the house is when you first begin to take it all in. Initially you’re amazed with the rubble, the collapsed buildings, then the tents, everywhere the tents. As we drove further from the airport the tents started looking worse, apparently those people close to the airport got the best tents when they came in, those further away got the tents left over or no tent at all. As we travel through the city the initial “I’ve got to get a picture of that” subsides because you realize that the “that” is everywhere, every street, and nearly every building. It is replaced with an almost cold assessment of why the buildings fell that way or “look you can see every floor” because they were stacked like pancakes on top of each other with no space in between. It was then that I realized the magnitude was incomprehensible at this stage.