January 25, 2010
Posted: 1610 GMT

Looking down from the live shot position an hour ago, I scanned the Champ de Mars park where thousands of Haitians are still sleeping outdoors, homeless and desperate, nearly two weeks after the earthquake hit.

They're waiting for aid, but they're also looking at an uncertain future. Thirteen days after the a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck, hundreds of thousands are homeless, jobless and in mourning for loved ones and the city the call home.

Then, I looked down: under the wreckage of an overturned car, a dog was gnawing at a dead body. Passers-by found the person yesterday when they cleared rubble over the vehicle. Just a short drive from the presidential palace, as rescue operations morph into recovery missions, this is still the reality of port-au-Prince today.

Everywhere there is death, immeasurable devastation and grief on a scale even the most hardened rescue workers have told me they haven't seen before.

When I first arrived in Haiti, I headed out onto the streets of the capital. I wanted to see the impact of the earthquake for myself. I wasn't prepared for what I saw: entire blocks flattened and mountains of concrete where neighborhoods once stood. It looked like buildings had been repeatedly hit with bunker busting bombs.

We filmed a few looters emptying a store and a shopkeeper a street away who had payed neighborhood residents with bags of food to help him haul away his most valuable stock. He'd rented a truck to transport his goods to the relative safety of a warehouse on the outskirts of the capital.

Nearby, we heard reports that a French and Greek rescue team had located a survivor under the rubble of a hotel. We headed to the scene.

There'd been many false reports of people surviving the quake, so we approached the story carefully. But it quickly became apparent that something significant was unfolding a the Hotel Napoli Inn in central Port-au-Prince.

"He spoke to us. He is seeing our light," one French rescuer told me.

As we prepared to broadcast live from the scene, CNN Senior Producer Alec Miran told me: "They're saying five minutes!"

We heard cries coming from under the tin roof that had collapsed on the pile of rubble that once was a four-story hotel. Then, the gathered news crews, rescue workers and bystanders converged: a man had been pulled out alive.

Spontaneous applause and cries of "Bravo!" erupted from the crowd.

Twenty-four year old Wismond Jean-Pierre was moving his hands and legs and even managed a smile as he was stretchered into an ambulance an onto a French field hospital.

I caught up with Wismond the next day. We spoke to his brother and saw the underground shack he will return to when he is discharged from hospital. When I ask his brother Ensu what his plans are for the future, he says: "I have no hope. I want to leave."

"Where to?" I ask.

"To anywhere but here," he answers.

As for the dead bodies found in an overturned car so close to our camera position, ordinary Haitians set them on fire. They had to take matters into their own hands. No government agency had come to pick them up. No international organizations had moved the corpses.

The nameless, faceless victims of this disaster burned in full view of adults and children alike. Two of Haiti's tens of thousands of victims. The smoke eventually cleared. A few feet away, survivors were quietly standing in line for free water from a nearby building.

(Photos on the scene of Saturday's rescue a the Napoli Inn. Gabe Ramirez/Steve Turnham/CNN)

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Filed under: Haiti •Today At The I-Desk

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Assefa   January 25th, 2010 6:47 pm ET

May Haiti grow and rebuild itself.

jaquon   January 25th, 2010 7:04 pm ET

my husband is a haitian citizen serving the Us. Army for 11 yrs, he been deployed 4 times to fight in iraq. when the quake happened in Haiti he did the right thing by notifying his Chain of Command. that his mom and a lot of his family members are still down there. His chain of Command turn their backs out of him. I can see it in his eyes that his unit let him down- The nco support channel did not even notify is Cdr.

Joe   January 25th, 2010 7:22 pm ET

Hello Hala;

Do you know of a plan for Haiti's response for construction to deal with upcoming hurricane season.
Obviously the people will have difficulty living in tents.
Also I hope construction for sewage systems under ground and infrastructure for fresh water for all residents will begin once and for all.

I'm quite sure labors from local population can be recruited under the guidance of experts familiar with codes needed to properly contruct all buidings for this nation, whether residential or commerical.
I'm not suggestiong to totally govern this nation , just offer tools used like in meeting buiding codes , ie, California fault, Japan , Mexico, etc.

I believe the leadership is on the right track to spread the people around the nation to avoid current over crowding in the capital city.

With all the donations if used properly, I quite the resources can stimualate growth and lead to equal opportunity for any adult person living in Haiti seeking to support their survival requirements!


Cara   January 25th, 2010 8:47 pm ET

It´s so sad that so many people will never know where their loved ones have been buried. And those who have survived are in such a hopeless situation.

Must feel quite surreal to anchor news about countries on the other side of the world in the open air in Port-au-Prince.

Good job everyone, anyway

luis alejandro   January 25th, 2010 10:17 pm ET

hi there hala Im from venezuela and I wanna tell you that I love your show. great job that the world has done to help haiti but it's to depressing to me that a country needs an earthquake to get some help. well that's all take care

Bradley Claridge   January 26th, 2010 2:34 pm ET

I understand the immediate need for tents and shelter from the elements, but is there a contingency plan in place in the event that Haiti should be hit by a hurricane in 6 months? It would be worth considering erecting several "pre-engineered steel building kits" in or around these tent cities to offer a more stable/safer temporary shelter in the event that the unthikable happens?

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