Earthquake survivors greeted in emotional reunion

January 17, 2010 9:16:37 PM PST
Thankful to be alive, a Chicago area family returned from Haiti Sunday for an emotional homecoming.The three family members were on the island spending time at their second home when the powerful earthquake struck last week.

The family's story was just one of many hopeful stories surfacing Sunday amid all the destruction and death in Haiti. The family experienced firsthand what it was like in Haiti during Tuesday's earthquake and the frightening hours following it.

Members of the Cadet family were in a three-story home that was reduced to just one level, and they managed to escape with only the clothes on their backs just as the earth began to shake.

"Oh, to be home. I never thought it could be happening," Marie Reginete Cadet said Sunday night.

"The floor was moving with speed I can't even explain. I thought that was it," said her husband Ducanor Cadet.

"I said, 'Ducanor, we will die together.' I started to pray, 'God, God help me!' Marie Reginete Cadet said.

Ducanor Cadet, his wife and nephew had traveled to their native country of Haiti just after the New Year so the 67-year-old could continue recovering from a recent stroke.

It was half-way through what was supposed to be a three-week stay at their second home just outside Port-au-Prince that disaster struck in the form of Tuesday's massive earthquake.

"It was just like a tornado moving around like this. I saw all the house moving like this, back and forth," said Ducanor Cadet, an earthquake survivor.

The family managed to escape their three-story home, which was destroyed. With little food and few provisions, they lived on their front lawn for the next five days.

"I'm the only one who had water with me. So, I shared it with everyone around me in the house. But it was hard to live outside," earthquake survivor Marie Reginete Cadet said. "We were drinking water little by little to survive."

Another relative in Haiti was finally able to get to the trio and get them to the crippled airport where U.S. Sec. of State Hillary Clinton airlifted about 50 Americans out of the country and took them to Miami.

Anticipation replaced worry Sunday as Mustafa Cadet, Ducanor Cadet's son, waited anxiously at a Chicago airport with other relatives to be reunited with the family members who had survived the earthquake.

Then, the moment came when a son embraced the father he once feared dead. He was finally home.

"It's an emotional feeling. You think about the little stuff you might have done , maybe a little argument or the happy times. You should never take anything for granted," said Mustafa Cadet.

Relative Mac Cadet, 25, says despite relief efforts, there's suffering, fear, and death everywhere.

"The TV did not show anything. The smell, the kids, I can't even speak," he said.

"God answered our prayers. I'm so happy. I'm so blessed," said family member Jim Pierre.

And the family's thoughts are still with those who are lost and may never be found.

"No one will ever find them or name them. Haiti needs a lot of help right now," said Tony Myrthil.

"You see the people, babies, dying on their mother's side. Oh my goodness," Ducanor Cadet said.

"The people of Haiti really need help, if you have a heart," said Marie Reginete Cadet.

The Cadet family says the images of the dead will stay with them forever. Because they survived, the family is anxious to give back to the Haitian community. When they are able to, they plan to return to Haiti to help on the ground.

The Cadet say they are very grateful to Sec. of State Hillary Clinton for helping them return to the United States.