South Florida rescue team returns from Haiti after rescuing four survivors

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There will be a fundraiser for Caring House Project Sunday, January 24 from 3pm till 2 am at the Sunset Blue, on NE 33rd St. in Fort Lauderdale (two blocks north of Oakland Park Blvd. off A1A). Five bands are scheduled to play along with drinks, booths, raffles and more. Learn more at Support this great cause and help them rebuild Haiti.

Two search and rescue teams returned to South Florida after working four days in Haiti to rescue survivors of the 7.0 earthquake

Fire rescue Nathanial Lasseur and Robert Belizairehug as emotions overtake them upon returning from their native country of Haiti.

Fire rescue Nathanial Lasseur and Robert Belizaire hug as emotions overtake them upon returning from their native country of Haiti.

that hit last Tuesday. Led by Frank McKinney, founder of Caring House Project, the two teams mostly from South Florida with one person from Colorado rescued four people from the rubble of Haiti during their four-day stint. Four firefighters from Delray Beach along with one each from Davie Fire Rescue and West Palm Beach Fire Rescue went on the mission along with a doctor and nurse who remained behind in Haiti.

Robert Belizaire from Davie went not just to help but also find his family.

“It was very frustrating—and you can’t do anything—a house fell on two kids and the older left the one-year-old inside and unless you can hear someone alive, (you don’t go searching),” he said after he arrived at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport Sunday evening worn out from the search and rescue mission.

He had family in Haiti, and his sister Jennifer Anglin said their mom and dad made it to Puerto Rico and will be flying in.

“We lost a 10-year-old cousin in school,” said Anglin.

Nathaniel Lasseur, a lieutenant in the West Palm Beach Fire Department also returned from Haiti, and gave a passionate plea for more public safety facilities in Haiti, saying there was only one fire station for the entire city of Port-au-Prince.

“I’ve been saying this for so long – let’s rebuild public safety – there are only two functioning fire stations for the whole country of nine million people,” said Lasseur “(but) I’m very optimistic – Haiti has to restart – plain and simple –but there’s no other place for it to go but up because everything is torn down.”

See video for more commentary from the rescuers about the situation in Haiti.

Frank McKinney, pink shirt, thanks his relief team for their time and effort and talks about being in Haiti.

Frank McKinney, pink shirt, thanks his relief team for their time and effort and talks about being in Haiti.

Once the team arrived in Haiti, they slept at the edge of the runway (if at all), said McKinney

“We were given a quadrant of the city—and as the windows of opportunity were closing in, we rescued four victims,” he added. “God guided us—we entered a hospital that had collapsed—and they were trapped 90 hours, so all four were miracles.”

However, the work has only just begun. Now that the search and rescue portion of the relief effort is almost over (as the likelihood of finding survivors slims), McKinney said the non-profit is meeting Monday, Jan. 18 to regroup and plan to bring teams of nurses and doctors back to Haiti to help with the follow up efforts.

“There will be a wave of casualties next week if we don’t get them treatment—the relief efforts of food water is a big beginning—but we need donations to  get doctor,” said McKinney. “Once the heavy machines get in to clear the rubble, we’ll get to what we’re good at—building sustainable villages.”

Since 2003, through CHPF donors, Caring House has invested nearly $3 million into creating self-sufficient villages in Haiti. By the end of 2010, CHPF would have built 14 villages in the Haitian cities of Gonaives(2), Port au Prince (Cite Soleil), Testasse,  Ft. San Michael, Los Cacaos, Cap Haitian (Blue Hills), Paroty, Terre Rouge, Fond Rouge Torbek, Chameua, Mannual and Mahotiere/Rampa, all at no cost to the beneficiaries.

This year, in 2010, CHPF planned to build the three villages in Chameua, Mannual and Mahotiere/Rampa, which are close to Jeremie, but McKinney’s wife Nilsa said things will be changing.

“We’ve been there working a long time—twelve years and we’re not going anywhere,” she said. “We had villages planned, but the scope of work has changed and magnified.”

To learn more, or donate to Caring House Project, click to visit their Website.

Photos below from Haiti courtesy of Salvation Army of  Broward.

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