In a letter written Jan. 15, two days after the Haitian earthquake, Lasallian Bernard Collignon described the "horror" he was witnessing in and among the communities in Port-au-Prince. (The following is a rough translation of that letter. The original French letter is below.)
I just returned from a walk in downtown Port au Prince. What I have seen is unimaginable: thousands of people wandering the streets going nowhere carrying small bundles with their possessions. Decomposing corpses everywhere, single or in heaps. Now they are covered but they are still seen in the wreckage just off any road. This afternoon I saw something unbearable: a dumpster full of rotting corpses. I say a dumpster. Unbearable! The smell of decaying corpses is very strong.
Epidemics are certainly coming. People have transformed all public places into campgrounds. Some have small canvas shelters. Others have nothing.