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DailyTidings.com
  • HELP FOR HAITI

    'It was like a huge bomb fell'

    Ashland resident facilitated emergency relief efforts for four weeks as a contract worker for Mercy Corps
  • In his four weeks there, Jacquot administered a Comfort for Kids program, which helps children overcome post traumatic stress disorder by retelling their tough times and drawing pictures of it.
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  • One of the first disaster responders to land in Haiti after the Jan. 12 earthquake, Richard Jacquot of Ashland found that his most powerful tool was his Blackberry, which he used to organize help from neighboring nations.
    With 230,000 dead and chaos all around him, Jacquot slept in the airport parking lot the first night and, with dawn, leaped into his job as disaster team administrator, setting up water sanitation, building 800 latrines, distributing life's necessities and launching a cash-for-work program.
    "The emergency response was so difficult. It was like a huge bomb fell," recalled Jacquot, who has responded to disasters many times before but never in a place where all services — water, power, electricity, police, government, food markets — were gone.
    "We went to the general hospital and distributed emergency food, high-energy biscuits, moving soon to wet feeding, which is regular food," said Jacquot, a contract worker for Mercy Corps in Portland. "The hospital's kitchen was not working.
    "The people were just traumatized. The sanitary conditions were absolutely apocalyptic. It was very hot and humid. The rains were starting," said Jacquot, noting that his team visited a nursing school that once served 70 students and staff and no piece of the building bigger than a fist was left. Only 10 survivors were pulled out.
    After a week, women from outlying areas began bringing in their food crops, selling them at booths along roads. Residents who helped in the disaster recovery effort through Mercy Corps' cash-for-work program were able to buy the food with the money they made, about $5 a day.
    In his four weeks there, Jacquot administered a Comfort for Kids program, which helps children overcome post traumatic stress disorder by retelling their tough times and drawing pictures of it. The program also trains parents to recognize the symptoms of psycho-social problems.
    The children "need to download their story and they do," he said. "In the end they have fewer problems with it than the adults."
    Working with Mercy Corps, Jacquot responded after the Indian Ocean tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, the China quake and other disasters.
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