Southern New Hampshire residents who traveled to Haiti before the earthquake hit said it's a country that can ill afford such a disaster.
When the Rev. Fred Cheney visited Haiti two years ago, the streets were a mess, there was almost no mail service, and communication was difficult.
"Normally, it's chaos," he said yesterday. "Now, I can't imagine."
Like many in the region who have visited Haiti, Cheney wonders how the already suffering country will cope with a massive earthquake that may have killed thousands of people and has leveled hospitals.
"You just think a country that's borne so much difficulty wouldn't have to go through this now, too," he said.
Mission groups and those who have done humanitarian work in Haiti said yesterday that little information had come out of the country and it was not yet clear what supplies would be needed. Those with family or friends in the country anxiously awaited word. At the Statehouse in Concord, House members began their session with a moment of silence for the earthquake's victims. Rep. Jean Jeudy, D-Manchester, grew up in Haiti.
The American Red Cross has pledged an initial $200,000 to assist communities affected by the earthquake. Locally, Ian Dyer, New Hampshire regional director of emergency services for the Red Cross, said chapters in the state have not yet been asked to call up disaster volunteers to go to Haiti.
Cheney, the senior pastor at Central Congregational Church in Derry, visited Haiti two years ago on a mission with a Massachusetts-based Christian nonprofit group, Servants for Haiti. The group supports a church, feeding station, orphanage and school in Haiti.
Cheney said he helped build the school when he visited. He said the buildings were constructed by hand with brick and mortar. The building survived the earthquake.