Friday, January 22, 2010

Haiti Update: Jan 22

I know it has been some time since I posted. Sorry about that. Between all the activity in helping BGM (http://www.brentgambrell.com/) and then realizing I was a week into college classes and had YET to crack a textbook open... and working... well... I'm just sorry. Here's what has happened since the last post:

Brent and Katie did make it back to Nashville safe and sound. They were met at the Nashville International Airport at about 10:00 p.m. with a crowd of family and friends and the media. I wish I had pictures... but I went straight from the BGM office to the airport, so no camera for me! That's okay though. It was just good to see them.

After many hugs and kisses and interviews with local TV news stations, we went straight back to the BGM office and brainstormed ideas of getting food to the babies still there, as their rations would be depleted by the following evening. We were able to update Brent on all the hard work the staff had done... we had food ready for delivery. We had helicopters that had agreed to drop the food at a specific place. We just needed to make sure it was going to reach the babies and not be mobbed before it could get there.

Sunday was another long day spent on the phones and collecting monetary donations as well as donations that people were bringing by the office. There were a couple of churches in the area that did blanket drives and we found ourselves with LOTS of blankets. We are VERY grateful.

I did remember to take my camera on Sunday. Here are some of the shots:
Here's what I call the Situation Room:



Everybody works their laptop and we keep CNN on in the background... I think the little computer server was not quite ready for us. It would start to drop us after a while.

This is the blackboard that holds the various phone numbers of friends who live in Haiti. On the night of the earthquake, everyone was doing their best to get through to any of the numbers.




This is just a glimpse at the number of volunteers who came out on Sunday to help us...



Here's Katie. Safe and sound back in the states after surviving the earthquake. It didn't matter how tired she was... she was going to be here and working to do what she could to get food to the babies... and to get Mike and Tia out of Haiti.





Here's some shots of the first day of supplies that have come in:





BLANKETS!!!


Then it was Monday. The BGM staff had been working diligently to get food to the babies. By our calculations, the situation would be critical. We had food on the ground, but we found the roads were no longer viable.

On top of all that, Mike still could not get Tia out of the country. He simply could not leave his daughter there. If he did... who knows when they could get her out of the country? They were just in front of a Haitian judge the week before the earthquake to finalize papers. But now, the US Embassy and State Department needed to get a plan in place to process these children. The frustrations were in how long it was taking them to get that plan in place.


Impromptu meetings would occur at any given time, and in any given place. At this point, we were learning that Mike and Tia were at the Embassy and it was looking good for them to get to leave the country. We were getting warily excited about the prospect of their return. We weren't quite jumping up and down at this point, but we were ready to.


See the pictures on the wall? From previous trips to Haiti. They go there about 8-10 times a year.


And yes... that is Brent with two phones. One at each ear. Missy is on her IPhone too. While I am a diehard Verizon girl, I will tell you the IPhone was the only way we could communicate with Mike while he was in Haiti. We were able to Skype him a couple of times, and some news organizations Skyped with Mike for interviews.


Mike has been given the green light to leave Haiti with Tia. They are on a shuttle from the Embassy that will take them to the airport where they will wait with a few hundred of their closest friends (they have never met) to board a military transport to return to the US.

And then... we learn... and it truly was only by the grace of God... that we know someone who knows someone (that happens alot) who is the pilot of a private plane that is on the runway in Port Au Prince ready to return to the states. He just happens to have a few seats available and if Mike can make his way to the plane, he can catch a ride.

Which is why Brent has two phones to his ears. One with the person in contact with the pilot in Haiti, and another with a contact in Florida/Nashville that can get Mike and Tia from Florida to Nashville. Missy is texting Mike in Haiti to tell him what plane to look for, etc.

So... more impromptu meetings occur, and phones calls get made...
(By the way... let's just say that when you answer the phone and it is the State Department calling... it is a little surreal)


All the while... Brent is still working the phone:
And finally, we get the news that they are on the plane and Missy can call her family members to let them know Mike and their new granddaughter are on the way home!!!


I will post soon the wonderful reunion. Keep checking http://www.brentgambrell.com/ for updates and how you can help!

1 comment:

jociegal said...

You are doing amazing work. Thank you and keep it going.