The Foreign Service Journal, January-February 2020

48 JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2020 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL A Night to Remember David Lindwall is a retired FSO who was serving as deputy chief of mission in Port-au-Prince at the time of the earthquake and for the first 18 months of earthquake relief and reconstruction programs. His other posts included Colombia, Spain, Honduras, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Guatemala, Paraguay, Iraq, Afghanistan and Sweden, as well as assignments in Washington, D.C. He can be contacted at . On Jan. 12, 2010, a sunny afternoon turned into a nightmare. America’s deputy chief of mission in Haiti shares his record of the first hours of the catastrophe. BY DAV I D L I NDWAL L W hat sounded like a deaf- ening peal of thunder on a bright, sunny day made my driver, Raoul, and my bodyguard, Dominic, glance at each other in surprise. We were in upper Delmas, in the heights above Port-au-Prince, Haiti, heading down the commercial boule- vard on the afternoon of Jan. 12, 2010. Raoul and Dominic were tense, uneasy. I pulled the earphones of my iPod out of my ears and stuffed them in my briefcase. The thunder peal was getting louder and closer. Suddenly the heavy concrete floors of a four-story office building on the right side of the car began slamming down one on top of the other. Thud! Thud! Thud! The huge glass windows shattered into the street. I tried to dial the State Department Operations Center on my BlackBerry, but I didn’t have my reading glasses on and, in my nervousness, I couldn’t get the numbers right. Dust was rising from buildings that lay in crumpled heaps. I told Raoul to turn around and head back to the embassy. FEATURE The 2010Haiti Earthquake ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/VOINSVETA