Families worry, wait for word from Haiti

January 15, 2010 3:24:16 PM PST
It's been a waiting game for Chicago area families who had loved ones in Haiti when the earthquake struck Tuesday afternoon. Many relatives have gotten word that family members survived, but communication problems are leaving many others with conflicting information.

Some family members have become frustrated with the pace of communication and the inaccuracies.

However, those families are aware of how important it is to get it right concerning the life or death of a loved one.

In Evanston, Euniel Mondesir tried to keep information about his sister-in-law away from his wife until they knew for sure her fate.

"The last news we heard directly from a cousin. Everyone was crying. The whole country knew she was dead," Mondesir told ABC7 Chicago.

"I crying all the time, all the time, all day yesterday," said Rose Mondesir, whose sister, Angelina Metellus, is a 24-year-old college student in Port au Prince.

Metellus was buried in the bottom of her three-story apartment building. Rescuers began searching Thursday.

"They are looking and looking, [saying] , 'Where are you Angelina?'"

"She was under the ground for all those days," Euniel Mondesir said. "She managed, after all those two days underground, and she came out on her own. I only know two people who did that: Jesus Christ and Angelina."

Even with the miraculous news about Angelina, the family's joy is tempered by the pain of the nation and those are still waiting to hear from loved ones.

In Chicago's South Loop, Greg Alphonse was waiting and hoping Friday as he networked with other local Haitian Americans. While most of his family is in the Chicago area, some of his mother's family is in Haiti.

"We didn't want to get caught up in the moment. We wanted to focus on secure information. At this point, it hasn't materialized," Alphonse told ABC7 Chicago.

Since the earthquake, no one has heard from Alphonse's grandmother, aunt and an uncle who was visiting Haiti from Paris.

Still, he says, regardless of their personal loss, he and his family feel the loss for all Haitians.

"We're thinking of the bigger picture. We are not just thinking about our family but other people's family, as well," Alphonse said.

During his search, Alphonse reconnected with a high school friend who is also Haitian American, Keisha Saintil.

Saintil was introduced to ABC7 viewers in a story Thursday night. She was working the Internet for information about friends and loved ones.

Saintil had already gotten sad news earlier in the day about her paternal grandparents who did not survive. However, she was desperate for information about her maternal grandparents, Therese and Louicam, who are Chicagoans and spend their winters in Haiti. They were in Haiti during the earthquake.

Saintil told ABC7 Chicago Friday that they were okay and that her grandmother called Friday morning.

Now, the family is trying to figure out how to get them back to Chicago.