- ABOUT THE EARTHQUAKE: Major quake hits Haiti; many casualties expected
- PHOTOS: Haiti Earthquake
- VIDEOS: Haiti Earthquake
- INTERACTIVE: Earthquakes - causes and consequences
- INTERACTIVE TIMELINE: Haiti earthquake
- SPECIAL SECTION: Get more coverage of the Haiti earthquake relief efforts in our special section
HOW YOU CAN HELP
- Hope for Haiti
- Mission of Hope - Haiti
- American Red Cross
- Text "HAITI" to 90999 to donate $10 to Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti
- World Harvest Mission
- Catholic Relief Services
- Contact Nesly Loute of the Haitian American Association of Southwest Florida at firstname.lastname@example.org or (239) 601-2023.
- Contact Angie Valentini of Helps Outreach at 239-273-2258 or visit them at 2025 J&C Boulevard in Naples.
- Text YELE to 501 501 and 5 dollars will go toward Wyclef Jean's Yele.org Haiti earthquake relief fund
- Americans concerned about family in Haiti can call the U.S. State Dept. for info: 1-888-407-4747
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Editor's Note: Daily News reporter Matt Clark is following Rev. Jean-Marie Fritz Ligonde, a Naples priest, as he searches for survivors of Collier County families.
PORT-AU-PRINCE — Blood rushed from Sister Judy Dohner’s forehead.
Her house had crashed down around her, a wall collapsing on her chest, a gate at her front door landing on her head.
“I thought the earth was opening up and swallowing me,” Dohner said.
She survived Haiti’s earthquake with some broken ribs, its epicenter just 12 miles from her home.
“God didn’t want me dead yet,” she said jokingly Wednesday.
Surrounded by devastation in the village of Fondwa, about a two-hour drive south of here, Dohner slept on the road as the aftershocks began. Through the night, she said screams echoed for miles upon every shake.
The next day, she said 15 men dug a fellow nun and a child from debris near the orphanage where she works part of the week. They were laid to rest and then Dohner moved on.
She had work to do in Tabarre, a neighborhood just outside the country’s capital. St. Damien’s Children’s Hospital, which she helped build, would be overwhelmed with patients, she knew. And they needed her.
“Make sure you tell them I’m 64,” Dohner tells a reporter. “I thought I was young until the earthquake. Now, I feel old.”
Nothing seems to stop her. A physician here described her as “a bulldozer.”
The Daily News named her Outstanding Citizen of the Year in 1999, after she worked for 10 years at the Guadalupe Center in Immokalee, expanding the organization’s ability to help migrant workers. Dohner also worked for Hope for Haiti in 2001 when she moved to the country to do missionary work.
Following the quake, Dohner took over the emergency room at St. Damien’s, which instantly went from treating children to doing triage for victims.
Doctors came from around the world. Volunteers walked in. All of them would be thrown to a nation of sadness.
“This is the worst trauma I have ever seen,” Dohner said, noting that she has been through “all the terror” of Haiti’s recent past.
“This country is going to walk throughout the rest of their lives with one leg and one arm,” she said.
In the emergency room Wednesday morning, a girl with a cast on her right arm lay on a table. Her heart could be seen racing through her chest. Her breaths heavy and quick.
A boy’s foot, missing patches of skin, was swollen and infected. His head back and mouth open, he wailed as nurses cleaned the wounds.
In post-op, amputees and their families, out of a first, second or even third attempt at removing infection, lay motionless except for their eyes, which dart to whoever enters the room and then return to gaze into the white walls.
In one of four operating rooms, a heart monitor emits the long, unnerving pitch of death. Someone didn’t make it. Those gathered around the body go silent.
Meanwhile, Dohner races from room to room. Moving a patient here, getting needed supplies there.
“Hard to follow me, ain’t it?” Dohner said as she darted out of the emergency room, a smile on her face.
“She hasn’t slowed down in the two days I’ve been here,” said Jennifer Ohle, 48, a registered nurse who came from Chatanooga, Tenn. “I was running to catch up with her.”
In the bowels of St. Damien’s, Dohner hunted for an autoclave, a microwave-shaped sterilizing device, in a room full of boxes.
“This is me with a broken rib,” Dohner said as she moved boxes, referencing the injury she has been living with since the quake.
“Come on guys,” she yelled at the orderlies with her, who stood, looking around. “I’m an old lady.”
The walls and floors all around her are sturdy now, but there are cracks scattered throughout the hospital.
It’s the one thing that stops Dohner. The 5.9 magnitude tremor Wednesday morning slowed her down briefly.
“When I felt it today, I jumped out of bed. I grabbed my bathrobe and ran down the steps and found myself trembling like this,” Dohner said, shaking her hands in front of her. “I could not move. I was paralyzed.”