Louisville, Kentucky – 728 people are confirmed dead and nearly 2,000 injured after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti early Saturday morning.
Gary Boyce and his son, from New Albany, Indiana, were on the fifth floor of a building in Jeremy City when he hit him.
What you need to know Gary Boyce in Haiti was serving with Tek4Kids when the earthquake struck 35 miles from the epicenter. Boyce helped with Hurricane Matthew recovery efforts in Haiti. The earthquake made the bridge used to deliver fuel and water to the city Boise impassable
“I couldn’t believe how much it shook, and I kept thinking, ‘The concrete is going to crack, because we were going back and forth and really rough,'” Boyce said.
Despite 35 miles from the epicenter, Boyce described those 30 seconds as the worst earthquake he had ever experienced.
“Churches here have collapsed, we had rock hotel walls and a lot of people got killed here, not like Lee Cayes,” Boyce said.
Boyce’s son planned a trip and would have been in the middle of Les Caye, one of the worst hit areas had he not decided to cancel after assessing the gang risks on the road there.
Boyce spends weeks at a time in Haiti on duty with Tek4Kids, which gives 2,000 Haitian children access to the technology.
“We are changing Haiti through education, we focus on technical education, we use technology to improve education, and that makes a huge difference, a huge difference in it,” Boyce said.
The earthquake was a repetition of a tragedy he had already witnessed in the past.
“We went to the earthquake, about 10 years ago, from Port-au-Prince that killed hundreds of thousands of people, so every single one of them was traumatized, just the fact that the ground is shaking, they can’t understand. They want to get out,” Boyce said.
The patients are now being treated outside hospitals that were already full, and the bridge near Les Cayes that is normally used to bring fuel and water into the area has collapsed, Boyce said.
Combining that with the recent assassination of Haiti’s president, Boyce said the country faces major turmoil.
“They’re not sure about the future, you know, hope is all the political stuff going on, and then, now there’s probably going to be a shortage of food and water here,” Boyce said. “You see the suffering and you see the families they can’t afford, they can’t feed your children and they don’t have good water and a lot of sickness and disease.”
He is ready to shift the focus of his mission to help as he has done in the past.
“[After] Hurricane Matthew, about four years ago, we were the first to land, passing water because in each of our schools we put batteries and inverters and we have a cistern. “We had a water filtration system in place, so we started pumping out thousands of gallons of water a day,” Boyce said.
Boyce is still in good spirits even knowing that a tropical storm is on its way.
“I feel like we’re helping people and trying to figure out how to help people more so that every time there’s a crisis, there’s an opportunity to do some good things,” Boyce said.
Boyce said he will spend the next several days evaluating the need for a water purification program.
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