Haiti: NZ mum coming to terms with loss

By Rachel Tiffen

The New Zealand mother who lost a husband and two daughters in the Haitian earthquake is "getting through hour by hour", while survivors still stuck in Port-au-Prince scramble and pillage to stay alive.

International aid is slow to get through - water and food is trickling into the ruined capital. There is gunfire in some neighbourhoods, where gangs rule, and the stench of rotting bodies pervades the humid air.

The United Nations has declared the 7.0 magnitude quake the worst disaster faced by the organisation, given the demolition of so many Government and UN facilities.

"Everything is damaged," said spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs, labelling it worse than the Asian tsunami of 2004.

Nelson's Emily Sanson-Rejouis, 37, and 2-year-old daughter Alyahna - who was pulled alive from the rubble with a broken leg - have been reunited with Mrs Sanson-Rejouis' sister Rachel Sanson, mother Jennie Wilson and father Roger Sanson in Miami.

Family friend Jodie Fitzgerald said Mrs Sanson-Rejouis was "obviously still quite distraught" and "just sort of focused on getting through each hour".

She was not sure when or if the recovered bodies of her husband Emmanuel Rejouis and daughter Kofie-Jade, 5, would be returned to New Zealand.

Specialist heat-seeking equipment had been used to scour the remains of the family's resident hotel area for signs of life, with none found. Search and rescue staff would continue looking for the body of 4-year-old Zenzie, Ms Fitzgerald said.

Alyahna, with a cast over her broken leg and a few scratches, is with her mother . "She seems to be okay, but she's quite young so she's not totally aware of what's happened," Ms Fitzgerald said. "I think she misses her sisters."

Meanwhile, the American family of Auckland teacher Samuel Picketts, who was feared missing in Haiti, are "thanking God" he changed his plans and didn't fly there from Santo Domingo.

"Oh Lord have mercy, [we are] much relieved, we were suffocating for days on end," said sister Carolyn Scott. She spoke to Mr Picketts, 59, on Monday, before a planned visit to Port-au-Prince, and the family did not hear from him until early Saturday [NZ time].

"I don't know [why he didn't call], every time we talk to him we're just so happy to hear his voice we don't ask him.

"He's going to be back in New Zealand on Tuesday and that's when we're going to chew him out," said another sister, Christina Brown.

"I tell you there's a lot of prayers that went up and the blessing surely came down."

Meanwhile, Kiwis are digging deep to help the Haitian relief effort, which will progress into a rebuilding of the city.

At 1pm yesterday, the Red Cross tally sat at $132,000 for its online and 0900 appeals.

The Oxfam appeal had not been tallied since Friday when it was at $120,000.

- NZ Herald

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