On the evening of Jan. 12, the worst earthquake in 200 years hit the poorest country in the world – Haiti. The 7.0 magnitude earthquake was followed by 12 aftershocks of 5.0 and above, destroying the entire infrastructure of the city of Port – au –Prince and vicinities.
In between the rubble, 10 Lynn University students and two faculty members, who were on a humanitarian mission in that country, went momentarily missing.
Mercyhurst College Junior Felicia Guerra was at the gym when she heard the news. For her, this news hit especially hard as she thought of her fellow Nicaraguan friend who was in Haiti. Daniela Montealegre, one of the 10 Lynn University students mentioned above, was participating in the “Food for the Poor” program and had been in Haiti for 2 days before the earthquake hit.
“When I heard about the earthquake, I was really shocked. It took a while for the idea to sink in that my friend was living this,” Junior Felicia Guerra said.
Thankfully, her friend is still alive. Of the Lynn University group, only six out of the 12 people on the trip have been found. In a CBS interview with the six students, PJ Tyska, Montealegre’s fellow classmate, explains how the events occurred.
Tyska said that at the time of the earthquake all the students were in pairs around the pool or in the patio of Hotel Montana, where they were staying. Most of them found each other after the earthquake, he said, but they are still praying for their four friends and two teachers who are still missing.
“We are very hopeful…we saw people being pulled out and alive,” Tyska said in the CBS interview. “This is not going to be a success story until we have our other four students and our two teachers back. We all are praying that that is a very big possibility.”
Montealegre is now safe and back in the States. She, along with the other five survivors, has done interviews and press releases as well as getting back in touch with her friends, including Guerra.
Guerra recalls that after hearing the news she called her family to try and get more information on her friend.
“My family back home kept me informed about her (Montealegre). They told me her family was desperately trying to get in touch with her but there was no communication for some days,” Guerra said. “It’s weird to think someone you know went through this catastrophe.”
Lynn University, along with various organizations and rescue teams are still conducting searches and has not given up hope. Students have also lighted candles on campus every night since Jan. 18 and will continue to do so “until all members of our campus community have returned home from Haiti,” their webpage states.
For developing news go to: http://www.lynn.edu/alert
To watch the CBS interview go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQZxQnGJxKE