One year later, East Texans still have hope for Haiti

By Holley Nees - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – A year ago, an earthquake devastated Haiti's capital killing hundreds of thousands of people and East Texans reached out to help.

Although many local people pitched in to help, the country is still struggling to rebuild.

A year ago, Donn Turner was making more than a dozen trips to Houston, working to send relief to Haiti.

"I expected to get a 16-foot trailer full of stuff and I wind up getting a 28-foot U-Haul, a three-foot Brookshire Brothers truck and several trailers full of stuff to take down there to ship to Haiti,"said Turner, who heads up the Lufkin Volunteer Disaster Team.

East Texans gave more than $20,000 to the relief effort through the Red Cross, that's not including all the items donated in the area. At the National Guard Armory in Lufkin people were dropping off bags full of supplies.

"There was a need for help and the people of East Texas just stepped forward and helped," said Turner. "The outpouring of support, the clothes and other items was overwhelming."

Although money and supplies helped meet Hatian's needs in the earliest hours of the disaster, one year later, there's still much to be done.

"There's challenges with the rubble, finding land that doesn't have the rubble on it," said Glenna Harkness, the Red Cross Deep East Texas Branch Manager. "Finding who owns that land because their government was devastated also. So, there's many challenges. Infrastructure that we take for granted, they're not just rebuilding it, they're having to design it for the first time."

Recovery is a lengthy process and a harsh reality for anyone to face.

"You know it's going to take a while because it's like it's been five years since Katrina and we still have people suffering from that," said Turner. "It pulls on your heart strings. I mean, I am not going to lie about it, but you know, I'm not going to lose hope that it's going to get better because if you lose hope, then whatever you do doesn't amount to a hill of beans."

It's an emotional scar that's not likely to fade for years to come.

Turner is still accepting any donations at the National Guard Armory in Lufkin on Tulane Drive.

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