Haiti earthquake sparks memories of 2010 incident for Sask. resident


Olivier Gentillon moved to Saskatchewan from Haiti in the 1970s, but that doesn’t mean the recent earthquake was any less devastating for him. 

Recovery efforts are underway in Haiti following Saturday’s magnitude 7.2 earthquake. The incident sparked memories from an earthquake in 2010, which Olivier Gentillon experienced first-hand. (Stanley Louis/AFP/Getty Images)

Olivier Gentillon moved to Saskatchewan from Haiti in the 1970s, but that doesn’t mean the recent earthquake was any less devastating for him. 

The epicentre of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake was recorded eight kilometres away from the town of Petit-Trou-de-Nippes, located 150 kilometres west of Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince.

The earthquake was recorded at a depth of 10 kilometres, the U.S. Geological Survey said, which made the temblor potentially bigger than and shallower than the magnitude-7 earthquake that hit Haiti 11 years ago. 

From his Saskatoon home, Gentillon remembered that devastating earthquake well. 

“January 2010, that was terrible,” Gentillon said. 

“I have no words to describe the situation now, because it is not easy to contact anybody.”

He said the day before the earthquake struck in 2010 he was in Miami, Florida, and had decided to fly to Port-au-Prince. 

Gentillon said he had to return to Canada after the earthquake. He wasn’t able to fly out of the airport in Port-au-Prince, and had to ride a bus into the Dominican Republic to return home. 

Having lived through that experience, he was able to foresee the future work and problems that could come about with the recent quake. 

Infrastructure and buildings, Gentillon said, would need to be demolished and rebuilt as they were after the 2010 earthquake, while water and electrical services — something he said already proved to be challenging in the country— would need to be restored, replaced or repaired.

When he spoke with CBC News on Saturday, he said he had yet to hear from any of his cousins or his nieces who lived in Haiti. 

Hope, he said, was a big word to contemplate given his experiences in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake — and for a country that seemed to constantly live in a state of hoping for the better, despite conditions seemingly getting worse every day.

“I don’t know how to describe the situation in what way we could have hope, I don’t see any hope yet,” Gentillon said.

“All kinds of things is possible in Haiti right now. So I don’t know where I could find that hope. If I tell you I had something right now, I’d be lying to you.”

Aftershocks still continue in Haiti. Search efforts are underway to find those trapped in rubble. The country’s Prime Minister sent aid to communities and hospitals hardest hit in the country. 

A one-month state of emergency was declared after the earthquake, and the country will not ask for international aid until the extent of the damage is known. 

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