Local relief mission returns to Haiti

-A A +A

The rainy season could be the next problem for Haitians

By Roger Snodgrass

Los Alamos resident Harold Salomon said Wednesday that he was returning to Haiti this week, to continue the relief mission he began shortly after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake flattened the capital city four weeks ago.


This time, Salmon said he would fly back with three other volunteers from Los Alamos — Don Lucero, deacon of Immaculate Heart of Mary and two volunteer nurses, Helen Langworthy and Isabella O’Hara.

Dawn Martinez of Española, a dental hygienist, will also join the team along with four other nurses from Albuquerque, Florida and North Carolina.

The current trip will begin on Saturday and connect with John Travolta’s group for a flight from

Miami on Sunday, Salomon said, with the return to the U.S. scheduled for

Feb. 22. Travolta flew his own Boeing 707 delivering aid to Haiti at the end of January.

Salomon has been on leave from IMTEC, a high technology company owned by 3-M in Los Alamos. He was able to reach Haiti a week after the earthquake to evaluate the status of the humanitarian organization, American Haitian Association for Medical, Economical and Educational Support (AHAMES), a humanitarian organization with a facility that provides clinical care, medicine and laboratory services and post-operative care for the injured.

Martinez said Wednesday that she used to work with Salomon at IMTEC and was going to support a friend.

“I’m used to caregiving,” she said. “And I can move rubble.”

Salomon is the executive director of AHAMES, also known as Americhelp. The organization has been certified by the New Mexico Attorney General and Guidestar and has a 501(c)(3) designation from the Internal Revenue Service.

On his recent visit, Salomon said his bags were lost and he ate crackers and water, while making his way to the AHAMES facility in Port-au-Prince.

“It is more than critical now, for us to continue the work we have been doing since 2007, considering the many hospitals and medical centers that have been destroyed,” he said. “Our building survived the earthquake and our services are even more important now.”

Relief is getting into some areas.

“Other areas were still untouched because of the extent of the damage and the number of people who have lost everything, because of the size and population impacted by the earthquake,” he said. “People are afraid to go into their houses and many are sleeping outside still.”

While he was there, an aftershock, measuring 5.4 on the Richter scale, again rattled the building in which Salomon was working.

“It seemed like the building was being pulled from the ground,” Salomon said. “Five minutes later the building began to shake again.”

He was only in the country three days.  At that time, the U.S. Geological Survey was predicting another, more powerful earthquake was coming and he was evacuated with 17 other people on a C-7 military plane back to Orlando, Fla.

Salomon said his efforts have been supported by several patrons in Los Alamos and that a collection had been taken up by employees of Los Alamos National Laboratory.

A big concern in the near future has to do with rain. With the onset of the rainy season, the estimated 500,000 to 750,000 homeless people and those who are sleeping on the hospital grounds would face greater risks.

“We expect infectious disease to rise beginning with the rains in April and May — that’s when it’s almost every day,” he said.

More information on AHAMES including e-mail and telephone numbers and how to contribute can be found at www.americ