Fifty people from northwest Iowa are trying to return to the state after surviving Tuesday’s devastating earthquake in Haiti. No members of the First Reformed Church of Sheldon mission team were injured. The group was located at their compound 10 miles north of the quake’s epicenter.
Doctor Bryan Den Hartog, a Sheldon native who now resides in Rapid City, South Dakota, has been able to call and e-mail his family back home. Den Hartog’s 18-year-old son, Taylor, says his father, two brothers, a cousin and his grandfather all made the trip.
“They said it was hard to even stand up and they could start seeing buildings collapse all around them,” Taylor said. “Then, once the dust settled a little bit, the real terror hit with bodies being pulled out of the rubble and the screaming and wailing of the Haitian people.”
The group from Iowa arrived in Haiti on Monday to help build homes and provide free medical clinics. Once the earthquake hit, Dr. Den Hartog and the others rushed to help victims in Port-Au-Prince.
“They’ve been seeing just horrible things,” Taylor said. “My dad had four people die in his arms the night after the earthquake hit.” The Iowa group’s compound became a make shift hospital within a few hours after the quake. Taylor says the medical staff quickly ran out of supplies and had no way to perform surgeries.
Some of the critically injured patients were taken to an actual hospital a half-hour away. Another member of the mission team reported 25 Haitians received medical treatment at the compound Tuesday night, but around half of them died the next morning.
The Iowans were waiting at an airport on Thursday hoping to catch a flight back to the U.S. Their return trip was being delayed because of all the humanitarian aid arriving from around the world.
Donations to the earthquake relief effort can be made through the American Red Cross website here.