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Logan nurses' aid trip to Haiti more than bargained for

Published: Friday, Sept. 4 2015 10:52 a.m. MDT

The earthquake left major damage in Carrefour, near the epicenter.  (Provided by Lindsay Crapo) The earthquake left major damage in Carrefour, near the epicenter. (Provided by Lindsay Crapo)

LOGAN — It started as a routine mission trip to help orphans in Haiti, but the day after Mandi McBride and Carol Smith, two emergency room nurses from Logan, arrived, they were faced with heaps of dead and wounded and a town in chaos and they are just happy to be alive.

In the aftermath of Tuesday's earthquake, the two find themselves stitching wounds and dealing with a continuous stream of head injuries, broken bones and lacerations. Notes the Web site reachouttohaiti.com, dedicated to the Ruuska Village orphanage located in Bon Repos a few miles from Port-au-Prince, the Utah nurses "sure got a whole lot more helping out than they planned on."

Mandi McBride was in the heart of the capital city Thursday and described the scene in an e-mail to her sister, Angie Rasmussen, also from Logan.

"It is a mess to say the least," Mandi McBride wrote. "Dead bodies everywhere that are being hauled off by the truck loads. Indescribable."

Rasmussen found out Thursday morning that her 10-year-old daughter, Abigaelle, who she has been trying to adopt for four years, is alive. Abigaelle, along with another 225 orphans from Foyer De Sion, made it out alive. This news made her cry for 10 minutes straight, Rasmussen said.

She and her sister, who has two adopted Haitian children at home in Utah, go to Haiti every three months to help out with the medical needs at an orphanage there, but Rasmussen had decided not go on this latest trip.

Mandi McBride's husband, Kevin, was at work for Associated Brigham Contractors when he learned of the earthquake from a friend who called to ask how Mandi was. He said he rushed home and pored over the Internet and watched the news and waited. "My heart just sunk," he said. He and Mandi traveled to Haiti 10 times during the process of adopting their two children, Schnaider, 4, and Charbine, 17, from an orphanage in Petionville, just east of the capital.

He prayed that the phone would ring and waited two very long hours before it did. Unlike most caught in the quake's chaos, Mandi McBride was able to borrow a satellite phone and get through fairly quickly to tell him she survived, albeit with some injuries. She has a possibly broken ankle and cuts that have her worried about infection.

Now the family's worried about Charbine's friends and family in Haiti, with whom they've stayed in close contact since the adoption. No word about her birth mom or brothers, Kevin McBride said, although they did hear most people in the orphanage where the children grew up are safe.

"Mandi said she has seen a lot of bad wounds and she learned how to do stitches and things she would never have imagined," he told the Deseret News.

As he looks at seemingly endless pictures of rubble and destruction on the news, he said he longs to take some of his company's construction equipment and start digging. But he's helpless right now.

The good news to him, he said, is that the Ruuska Village orphanage has well water and generators. He's praying they don't run out of fuel.

And the immediate plan for the nurses to come home for now centers on using the return ticket they had for a flight out next Tuesday. Whether that will be possible is up in the air, he said.

Eagle Mountain resident Sam Betteridge, on the other hand, is looking for a way into Haiti. His wife, Stephanie, is from Port-au-Prince and they plan on leaving with their three small children on Tuesday to help in any way they can and reunite with her parents, Wilmine and Pierre Jonassaint, whose house was one of the few in the area that is still standing.

The Betteridges were actually some of the first to hear about the earthquake when they happened to call the Jonassaints 20 minutes after the earthquake happened.

"It was crazy," said Sam Betteridge of hearing there had been an earthquake and that his in-laws were literally on the edge of the destruction. Their call only lasted 45 seconds, but they felt blessed to hear so quickly that their family was safe.

Since then, they have planned a trip and sent an e-mail out asking all friends and family to help them help those in Haiti by donating money or supplies or even by going there. Anyone interested can contact the Betteridges at sambetteridge@gmail.com or 801-995-4794.

e-mail: slenz@desnews.com, lois@desnews.com

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company