The Foreign Service Journal, January-February 2020

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2020 49 “No, boss, we have to get you to your house.” “Raoul, we have to head back to the embassy!” Ignoring me, he turned the car into a side street toward my house, but we hadn’t gone 50 feet before the rubble completely clogged the street. There were wounded people walking aim- lessly in front of us, and cars had been crushed like soda cans. We turned on the embassy radio. The excited cacophony of Creole voices was dizzying. The guards at embassy residences were reporting damage to the houses they were assigned to, most not realizing that the entire city had been hit. I asked Dominic what they were saying. “The lady, she walked into the house, and it collapsed,” he translated. The guard kept repeating the same line in increasing tones of despair. I asked Dominic to ask the guard who the lady was. Even through his thick accent I could make out that the guard was say- ing “Victoria DeLong”—the embassy’s cultural attaché. u Upper Delmas had been badly hit, and many buildings had pancaked. The sidewalk market ladies who had been sitting in the shade of the buildings on Delmas had failed to run, and many lay dead on the sidewalk, crushed by chunks of concrete the size of refrigerators. The survivors were coated head to toe with a fine white powder from disintegrating concrete and plaster. It looked like the end of the world. We drove past many people, mainly women, on their knees with their arms stretched up to the heavens. Through the bulletproof glass I could hear them wail, “Pitye, Jesi! Pitye, Jesi!” (Have pity on us, Jesus!) Traffic had become chaotic. At the intersection that led toward the embassy, two nervous policemen waved drivers on. I could see that the Caribbean Market, where I did all my grocery shopping, had collapsed and slid across the street cutting off the road. The car came to a total stop as dusk was setting in. I asked Dominic to look for a flashlight, because we would be walking the roughly 10 miles back to the embassy. “Give me two minutes, two minutes!” he shouted breath- lessly, and jumped out of the car. On Jan. 12, 2010, author David Lindwall was stuck in traffic up on Delmas Boulevard, a main thoroughfare leading down from the top of a hill to the plain in Port-au-Prince. About 30 feet away, set back from the road, the building shown here “pancaked” before his eyes. Six weeks later he returned to take this photo marking the place and time he realized that the sound of thunder heard on that sunny afternoon was, in fact, an earthquake. COURTESYOFDAVIDLINDWALL