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Archive for Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Lawrence couple grapples with Haiti’s earthquake devastation after bringing friend’s body back to U.S.

Joe and Rev. Shirley Edgerton survived the devastating Haiti earthquake while visiting the island working on a mission trip.

Joe and Rev. Shirley Edgerton survived the devastating Haiti earthquake while visiting the island working on a mission trip.

February 10, 2010

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Lawrence couple survive quake, but are haunted by friend’s death

A trip to Haiti ended sadly for two Lawrence church missionaries last month, when they had to identify the body of a prominent church leader and bring his corpse home to his family. Enlarge video

A trip to Haiti ended sadly for two Lawrence church missionaries last month, when they had to identify the body of a prominent church leader and bring his corpse home to his family.

“It was very devastating to us,” said Joe Edgerton, a member of Central United Methodist Church, who was in Haiti with his wife, the Rev. Shirley Edgerton, when the massive Jan. 12 earthquake struck. “We’d worked with Sam off and on for a number of years and knew him fairly well.”

Rev. Sam Dixon

Rev. Sam Dixon

Their friend, the Rev. Sam Dixon, had been trapped under a collapsed three-story hotel in Port-au-Prince. When rescuers found him three days later, he was dead.

Dixon was an executive of United Methodist Global Ministries, the global mission agency of the United Methodist Church based in New York. Two other men he was with were rescued from the rubble, though one of the men, the Rev. Clinton Rabb, later died.

“They were confined and under the rubble for about 55 hours, and during that time, both Clint and Sam had a large portion of the roof, of concrete, which was across their legs,” said Shirley Edgerton, a retired pastor and nurse.

The Edgertons, of Baldwin City, had just wrapped up a meeting with the executives ahead of the earthquake, which is estimated to have killed 230,000 people.

2010 Haiti Earthquake

A 7.0 magnitude earthquake occurred 10 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince on Jan. 12, causing widespread devastation in Haiti's capital and throughout the country.

Joe Edgerton was among those who traveled to the Montana Hotel to look for the missing church leaders, who were in the country to re-strengthen a weakened relationship with the Methodist Church of Haiti.

“It was total destruction. It was completely rubble,” Joe Edgerton said of the hotel. “I had a pretty good idea where they might be, but there was nothing you could do.”

He said he found three other unidentified bodies in the rubble during his limited search efforts and then was forced to wait two days for search-and-rescue experts to come to the scene.

“We began to look for him, and when we went up to the Montana again, we identified the body, and then reported it to the embassy,” Shirley Edgerton said.

The couple returned to the United States on Jan. 20, accompanying a flight that was arranged to bring Dixon’s body home.

Since returning home, the Edgertons have spent their time trying to contact people they knew in Haiti from the two years they volunteered in the country, and have also been training other United Methodist relief workers on what they can expect when they travel to Haiti to help.

“We haven’t really sat down and just kind of called it quits for a while,” said Joe Edgerton. “We’ve kept fairly busy and probably haven’t really sat down and faced it yet.”

The couple hope to return to Haiti in April, but said they’ll first seek the permission of their families, who worry about their safety each time they travel to the country.

Comments

anobium625 4 years, 6 months ago

I was on Ile de la Gonave about thirty-three years ago, staying in Source-a-Philippe about two weeks by myself and in Trou Jacques for a week along with a retired postman from St. Petersburg, FL.. I worked a little with windmills and water purification systems, and I tried to do a little surveying. I wasn't very effective.

I am sure that the island residents are better off than those near the earthquake epicenter, but I am also sure that they will be having problems getting necessary food and supplies from the afflicted mainland. If there is some reasonable assurance of its reaching the island, I am willing to contribute $1,000 to the effort. I understand that Haitian politics may siphon off a portion of this, and I will not place any restrictions on how the money is used.

Since the Edgertons were on La Gonave at the places I visited, I would be willing that the money would go in support of the trip they are considering in April, but I would need some help in how to make the necessary arrangements.

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mtcampbell 4 years, 6 months ago

If you are interested in supporting the ongoing relief effort on the island of LaGonave, you may make a contribution to Central United Methodist Church 1501 Massachusetts St. 66044. In the memo line, write Advanced Special-Edgerton/Lagonave. The money goes directly to the needs of the island as directed by the Edgerton's on behalf of the United Methodist Church. Call the church if you have additional questions.

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anobium625 4 years, 6 months ago

Thank you for the information. My response was delayed because I went off to England for a month-long visit, but that will not prevent me from writing and mailing a check.

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