Devastation in Haiti, a First-Hand Account

by Salvation Army
Categories: Blog

salvationarmy_haiti_2Words cannot begin to describe the devastation that has taken place in Port au Prince, Haiti.

I am the Director of Disaster Services for The Salvation Army in Haiti, and I am from the United States. My wife and I have been in Port au Prince since April, and have fallen deeply in love with the country and its people.

When the earthquake struck, I was driving down the mountain from Petionville. Our truck was being tossed to and fro like a toy, and when it stopped, I looked out the windows to see buildings “pancaking” down, like I have never witnessed before. Traffic, of course, came to a stand-still, while thousands of people poured out into the streets, crying, carrying bloody bodies, looking for anyone who could help them. We piled as many bodies into the back of our truck, and took them down the hill with us, hoping to find medical attention. All of them were older, scared, bleeding, and terrified. It took about 2 hours to go less than 1 mile. Traffic was horrible, devastation was everywhere, and suffering humanity was front and center.

When we could drive no further, we left the truck parked on the side of the street, and walked the remaining 2 miles to get back to the Army compound. What I found was very sad! All of the security walls were down. The Children’s Home itself seems pretty intact, but our quarters, which is attached, are destroyed. Unliveable. The walls and ceiling are still standing – but so badly compromised that I wouldn’t even think of trying to stay there. All of the children, and hundreds of neighbors, are sleeping in our playground area tonight. Occasionally, there is another tremor – another reminder that we are not yet finished with this calamity. And when it comes, all of the people cry out and the children are terrified.

As I am sitting outside now, with most people trying to get a little sleep, I can hear the moans and crys of the neighbors. One of our staff went to a home in the neighborhood, to try to be of assistance to the woman who lived there. But she was too late.
The scene will be repeated over and over again. Tomorrow, we will begin the process of assessing damage, learning about casualties, and preparing for the future.

God bless Haiti.

Bob Poff
Divisional Director of Disaster Services in Haiti
The Salvation Army


The Salvation Army is rapidly mobilizing and responding to the devastating magnitude 7.0 earthquake that shook Haiti yesterday. To better understand the tragedy this country is facing, please take a moment to read the letter at the end of this post from Bob Poff, the Salvation Army’s Divisional Director of Disaster Services in Haiti, regarding his account when the earthquake hit.

With many people missing, injured, or killed, and much of Haiti’s infrastructure damaged, the Salvation Army needs your help to provide much needed aid.

The Salvation Army is accepting monetary donations to assist in the effort via:
Online Donations
• 1-800-SAL-ARMY

In order to keep you updated regarding the situation in Haiti and The Salvation Army’s aid efforts, we will update regularly as new information comes in.