Two Columbians trying to learn fate of families in Haiti

Thursday, January 14, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CST; updated 7:42 p.m. CST, Thursday, January 14, 2010

COLUMBIA — MU student Laura Janvier has been unable to contact her aunt, a Haitian who lives in Port-au-Prince. She also has other extended family members in Haiti.

Janvier visited Haiti when she was 12 years old. She stayed with her aunt, who used candles for light and lived without reliable running water. The country was poverty-stricken before the earthquake, so “now, they must be traumatized,” she said.

Haitian native Flore Zephir, a MU French professor and chair of the department of romance languages, said that she'd been on the phone all day Wednesday trying to reach her two brothers in Port-au-Prince. By 3 p.m., she still hadn't heard any news from them.

Anyone who is searching for a family member in Haiti can contact the U.S. State Department Operations Center at 888-407-4747. 

Mike Odneal, executive director of the Mid-Missouri Chapter of the American Red Cross, at 1805 W. Worley St., said many people called Wednesday to ask how they could help. The chapter is accepting walk-in donations. For information, call 445-9411, or donate $10 by text messaging the word "Haiti" to the American Red Cross at 90999. The amount will be added to your next phone bill.

Wyclef Jean's charitable organization, Yele Haiti, is also accepting donations. To donate $5, send a text message to 501501 with the message "YELE." Donations can be made online at

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