Local man would go back to assist Haiti if needed
Amherst native Matt Chitty was glued to his TV for most of the day Wednesday watching news coverage of the earthquake that struck Port-au-Prince, Haiti, the day before. Chitty spent two weeks in Haiti last February on a mission trip through the Wesleyan Church. Raissa Tetanish - Amherst Daily News
AMHERST - For much of the day Wednesday, Matt Chitty's television set was tuned into CNN for the latest coverage on the earthquake that struck Haiti the day before.
"If somebody called me tomorrow and needed me to do something, I would," said Chitty.
An Amherst native, Chitty spent two weeks on La Gonave Island last February during a mission trip with the Wesleyan Church.
"I've already been in contact with the people on La Gonave Island, but they didn't get the devastation Port-au-Prince got. They got more aftershocks than anything," Chitty said, adding there have been some deaths reported in the mountains on La Gonave Island.
"We stayed in Port-au-Prince the night we arrived and then on our way out. There are more people than that out there on a regular day, grabbing you as you go by, offering you babies and following you to your vehicle. But I'd go down in a minute right now."
Because the island is only accessible by boat and the wharfs have been closed, those on the island aren't able to make it to the mainland.
"They're scared because they rely on supplies from Port-au-Prince every week for food, water and everything else in between," said Chitty.
Rev. Raymond Fancy spearheaded the two-week mission last year that included Chitty and other Amherst residents and said the people on La Gonave Island are still afraid more buildings are going to collapse and have taken to sleeping in the streets.
"They're still feeling the aftershocks, even (Wednesday). It's hard to imagine something like this has happened," he said, noting he and the others on the mission had seen the presidential building that has been leveled.
"Haiti is in a devastating state to start with, so to have this happen complicates everything else."
Although Chitty said he'd lend a hand in Haiti in a minute, he doesn't know where the country is going to begin to repair and restore Port-au-Prince.
"They have no equipment to move anything, so right now it's just digging through the rubble," he said.
The Wesleyan Church operates a hospital on La Gonave Island, which, according to the church's website, hasn't sustained any major damage.
"They had taken everyone out of the hospital - a concrete building - and moved them into a tin building incase there was another aftershock that would have collapsed buildings," said Chitty.
Chitty said the island has also shut down the generators they run to try and save what fuel they currently do have.
The Canadian Red Cross is sending a group of volunteers to assist in the aftermath, and 11 of the Red Cross offices throughout the Maritimes are extending their hours to accommodate those wishing to make donations.
The Amherst branch, however, is not one of those extending its hours but will be accepting donations for relief. Receipts will be given out at the office located at 16 Church St., Suite B, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.