EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

January 14, 2010

Local Haitians wait and worry


His father, Etiennor, 68, was supposed to return from Haiti yesterday after going on vacation. The older Etienne lives in New Jersey and spends some time in his native country during the winter.

"My stress level is so high. I don't know if he's alive or if he's coming back," said Paul Etienne of Lawrence. "I've been trying to be strong, but I feel terribly for my father."

Ready to help

Pam Nolin of Haverhill has already told the Red Cross she's ready, willing and able to head for Haiti and provide medical care to the victims.

The retired nurse spent almost four weeks in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in the summer of 2005. Then she went to Houston to care for people who had been evacuated from New Orleans.

Despite her vast experience in helping disaster victims, she said it's "unlikely" she'll get a call from the International Red Cross. The requirements for volunteering for the worldwide organization differ from the American Red Cross' expectations, she said.

For one thing, volunteers headed overseas must be up to date on all kinds of shots, she said. Nolin and anyone else who ends up going to Haiti can expect to work shifts of 10 to 12 hours, she said.

She also said seeing the pain will be tough to take, but the reward will be great.

"You're there as a supportive role. That overtakes the sadness," she said.

'The last thing we need'

Marie Stephania came to America when she was 7 and now lives in Lowell. Her grandmother and aunts remain in Haiti. She spent Tuesday night watching the horror unfold on her television.

"I just felt hurt because we have no machinery, fire department and people are digging up dead with bare hands," said Stephania, a member of the Haitian Church of God in Lawrence.

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