January 13th, 2010
04:35 PM ET
January 13th, 2010
02:36 PM ET

Haiti's people have strong will to rebuild

Edwidge Danticat
Special to CNN

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The earthquake that shook Haiti on Tuesday was only the most recent disaster to lay siege to the most impoverished nation in the Western hemisphere, a country that was beginning to show some signs of rebirth, says Haitian-born American novelist Edwidge Danticat.

"There was a sense after the four storms last year that there were some positive things happening," she said, with new hotels going up and fresh hope for foreign investment, against a long historical backdrop of poverty, natural disaster and political instability.

The magnitude-7.0 quake, she said, "just grinds everything back into the ground."

Even so, Danticat sees hope in a resilient population and an international community that she believes will come to its aid.

"It looks extremely bad right now," she said, "but Haitians will rebuild."

Danticat has been writing about Haiti since she was a girl.

When she was 12, she left Haiti and moved with her brother to Brooklyn, New York, to join her parents, who'd emigrated a decade earlier. Her first works in English were published in a New York city magazine for teens when she was a teenager. The books she has written since have leaned into the history and issues of Haiti, the Haitian diaspora and the immigrant experience. She is an advocate for her country of origin.

Danticat is the author of several books, including "Breath, Eyes, Memory," an Oprah's Book Club selection; the National Book Award finalist "Krik? Krak!"; and "The Farming of Bones," an American Book Award winner. "Brother, I'm Dying," a memoir, was a 2008 winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography. She is a 2009 recipient of a MacArthur Foundation grant.

Danticat spoke with CNN.com Wednesday.

CNN: What does the earthquake mean for Haiti?

Edwidge Danticat: It is a catastrophe beyond measure, because even when we've had mudslides or floods, it has overwhelmed the capacity of the country to handle it: to absorb the wounded, to help people find medical care. But this situation is something far beyond anything the country has ever experienced before.

Keep Reading...

Filed under: 360° Radar • Haiti Earthquake
January 13th, 2010
02:09 PM ET

Video: Haitian capital 'shocking'

Anderson Cooper | BIO
AC360° Anchor

Filed under: Anderson Cooper • Haiti Earthquake
January 13th, 2010
01:29 PM ET

Interactive: Haiti 101

Editor's Note: Hundreds of thousands of people may have died in Haiti's earthquake, the prime minister told CNN Wednesday. Haitian authorities said the powerful quake destroyed most of the capital city of Port-au-Prince. Anderson is on the ground and will report live on the situation tonight at 10 p.m. ET.

Haiti is one of the poorest, most densely populated and least developed countries in the western hemisphere; 80 percent of its 9 million residents live in poverty.

Haiti shares the island of Hispaniola with its neighbor, the Dominican Republic.

Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, is home to about 2 million people, many of whom live in poorly constructed shanties.

Check out the interactive above to learn more about Haiti's history, economy, politics and geography.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Haiti
January 13th, 2010
01:15 PM ET

On the way to Haiti

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Anderson Cooper | BIO
AC360° Anchor

We are not sure what to expect. The initial reports are bad, but as we all know, they can often be inaccurate. Rumors become facts, guesses become estimates.

On a story like this you need to see it with your own eyes. I am in a taxi in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The airport in Port-au-Prince is shut down, so we flew here on the last flight out of New York at 1 a.m. I bought two cases of water from a cafe at the airport and we are heading to some helicopters that are about to take off for Haiti.

I've made this trip before. In 1994 I drove into Haiti from the Dominican Republic. It wasn't a natural disaster then, it was a man-made one.


Filed under: Anderson Cooper • Haiti Earthquake
January 13th, 2010
12:25 PM ET

Where will the next five big earthquakes be?

Bryan Walsh

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Los Angeles

Earthquakes have always been part of Los Angeles' past — and its future. In 1994 a 6.7-magnitude quake hit the Northridge area of the city, badly damaging freeways, killing more than 70 people and causing $20 billion in damages. But those numbers could be dwarfed by a major quake in the future. The geologic record indicates that huge quakes occur roughly every 150 years in the region — Los Angeles lies along the southern end of the San Andreas Fault — and the last big quake, which registered a magnitude 7.9, happened in 1857.

Los Angeles has done a lot to beef up its building codes and emergency response in the 15 years since the Northridge quake and may be better prepared than any other major American city, but the city's sheer size ensures the next Big One will be bloody.

Keep Reading...

Filed under: 360° Radar
January 13th, 2010
11:02 AM ET

Churches, groups worry about members missing in Haiti

Jim Kavanagh

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Some Americans visiting or working in Haiti have not been heard from since Tuesday's earthquake, but loved ones back home are trying to remain optimistic as good reports come in from others.

CNN iReporter Cynthia Kivland of Prairie Grove, Illinois, spent a sleepless night trying to get in touch with her 30-year-old daughter, Chelsey.

Chelsey Kivland has lived in Haiti for more than two years and speaks fluent Creole; she just returned there from a visit home in December. The Fulbright Scholar at the University of Chicago is finishing her doctoral dissertation in anthropology.

"She's just a beautiful person," said her mother, who contacted the State Department and the university for help.

Help the Kivlands find their daughter

There are about 45,000 Americans in Haiti, the U.S. State Department estimates.

A 15-member group from Trinity United Methodist Church of Hackettstown, New Jersey, turned up after going missing for about 18 hours after the quake. The group was believed to be at an orphanage in Bon Repos, 15 miles north of Port-au-Prince, when the earthquake struck.

At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, a church member said the group contacted the church via a CNN satellite phone in Haiti.

Keep Reading...

January 13th, 2010
08:35 AM ET

Dear President Obama #359: Hard days for Haiti

Reporter's Note: President Obama has pledged the United States’ support for Haiti following the devastating earthquake there; the subject of my daily letter to the White House.

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Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

My producer and I told our New York folks that we are ready, willing and able to go to Haiti to assist with the coverage. So far, we are not needed, and that’s fine. While I still get excited about covering disasters, I have changed since my younger days.

Back then, the experience of going to some place that had descended into chaos was so exhilarating, and the challenge was so daunting, that I had precious little time to think about the people who were caught in the middle. I was certainly sympathetic, but so many other emotions were competing for space, I simply could not afford to get too caught up in my feelings. And I’ve had a great many adventures along the way: Trekking through war torn lands; visiting places where catastrophes had destroyed a generation of work (and sometimes the generation itself;) wading through floods; dodging wildfires; bracing against blizzards, hurricanes, and tornadoes; sleeping in an abandoned school while the rats ran over the floor and the enemy snipers watched for any movement we might make in the night.


January 13th, 2010
08:30 AM ET

Morning Buzz: Rescue and relief efforts in Haiti

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Eliza Browning
AC360° Associate Producer

A major earthquake struck southern Haiti yesterday, knocking down buildings and inflicting a catastrophe on the impoverished Caribbean nation. The U.S. and global humanitarian agencies said they would to begin administering aid today amid fears that the poorest country in the western hemisphere was facing nothing short of a catastrophe.

The 7.0 quake struck near the capital, Port-au-Prince, shortly before 5 p.m. yesterday afternoon and brought down buildings, including the presidential palace, hotels a hospital and the UN headquarters in the capital. The powerful Haitian earthquake has destroyed most of the capital city of Port-au-Prince, Haitian authorities said this morning.

Anderson is on his way into Haiti as we speak on a United Nations helicopter. He will be filing dispatches and letting us know what he’s seeing as soon as he hits the ground. Gary Tuchman and Dr. Sanjay Gupta are also on their way to Haiti to report on the search, rescue and relief efforts under way across the country.


Filed under: Eliza Browning • Haiti Earthquake • The Buzz
January 13th, 2010
06:00 AM ET
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