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Schroon native deals with Haiti tragedy

SCHROON LAKE - The earthquake devastation in Haiti has left Aimee Lavarnway speechless.

"I don't even know what to say," she remarked.

Lavarnway, a 1997 Schroon Lake Central School graduate, has worked in Haiti as part of the Engineers Without Borders program, helping local residents improve their water systems.

She was scheduled to return next month, but that trip is on hold indefinitely as Haiti deals with the aftermath of a 7.0-magnitude quake that rocked the impoverished nation on Jan. 12.

More than 200,000 people are estimated to have been killed.

"Some of us are still in regular contact with the Port-au-Prince-based guys that we've traveled with and I can't even begin to imagine what they're going through," Lavarnway said. "One of them said it's like they're living in a war zone. Another sent me a text message yesterday (Jan. 20) that said they had finally found his aunt and they had to bury her in her yard.

"People are just terrified," she continued. "There were two more aftershocks so far today - there have been more than 50 total, all with magnitudes of 4.2 or greater - and I get texts saying how everyone is freaking out every time. They're afraid to be inside. A hospital in Petion-Ville (a suburb of Port-au-Prince) has occasional posts on Facebook and they said that during the aftershocks, there is chaos while the patients all panic and their family members try to carry them outside.

"Our contact who works in Les Anglais and lives in Les Cayes said last week that he already knew that he had lost 40-45 friends and family members," Lavarnway said. "There are very few jobs in the provinces, so pretty much every family in the country has at least one member who had moved to Port-au-Prince to try to find work. A Haitian well driller based in Les Cayes emailed last Saturday and said that his parents were living in Port-au-Prince and that he still hadn't been able to contact them."

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