A week after a devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake rocked Haiti, much of the borough’s Haitian population is in limbo as to whether their relatives in the poor island nation are dead or alive.
“I call and no answer. I can’t talk to nobody,” said Anelia Jules, a Haitian immigrant who works at Madelyn’s Chocolate Novelties, a chocolate factory, in Far Rockaway.
Jules, who moved to the United States in 1982, said her sister, brother, nephew and niece still live in Haiti.
“I need to talk to somebody,” she said. “Make sure my family is alive. Make sure my friends are alive.”
Her co-worker, Rock Pacaud, said he has tried to contact his family but has not been able to get a response.
“I don’t know anything. We try and try but no answer.” He said his uncle, aunt, nephew and cousin are still in Haiti. “I tried last night, yesterday. No answer.”
“I’ve tried and nothing,” said Clifoid Jean-Baptiste, who also works at Madelyn’s, where about 50 Haitian immigrants are employed. “I want them to call me.”
Joseph Nicholas, a 75-year-old Haitian immigrant who works at Madelyn’s, said his two brothers and five grandsons survived the earthquake but are staying in the backyard of their home, which was crushed, without food and water.
“The house is destroyed but the family is OK,” he said in Creole through a translator. “The ceiling was coming down.”
Imacule Agdhemar, a 62-year-old Brooklyn resident who works at Madelyn’s, said her whole family lives in Haiti.
“They don’t have house. House fall down,” she said in broken English. “They live in the street now.”
At Micheline de Paris, a perfume store on Linden Boulevard in Cambria Heights, the owner said information on relatives is hard to come by.
“The only news that everybody is getting is from CNN,” said the owner, who only wanted to be identified as Barbara. “You try calling and calling, but you want them to call you back.”
She said her uncle in Virginia was able to reach cousins who survived the earthquake.
“They said they’re all right, but of course they lost their houses,” she said.
Tens of thousands of Haitians are feared dead, according to the latest estimates. The Haitian consul general in Manhattan said 100,000 or more may have died.
U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills) visited Madelyn’s Friday to update the company’s Haitian workers on the ongoing efforts to rescue those trapped in the rubble and to bring aid to those who survived.
“Literally dozens of planes are in the air right now. Aid is finally there on the ground and it’s making its way to the people,” said Weiner, whose remarks were translated into Creole.
“We know the victims there are suffering, but we also know it’s tearing your hearts not knowing what’s going on,” he said.
The congressman compiled a list of relatives from workers at the chocolate factory he said he would give to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to see if they could be contacted by aid workers in Haiti.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz
©2010 Community News Group
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