A Wayne couple is awaiting official word on the safety of their son after a massive earthquake ravaged the Haitian city he’s been visiting for the past five days.
David and Susan Webbert have heard indirectly that their 22-year-old son, Austin, is safe following a magnitude-7 earthquake that struck Tuesday afternoon and is thought to have killed thousands of people.
“We’ve been hoping for the best and fearing the worst,” said Susan Webbert, a speech-language pathologist at Cony High School in Augusta.
Austin Webbert traveled to Port-au-Prince on Jan. 9 to work on a philanthropic initiative, called the Soley Uni project, through which participants build youth community centers in Cité Soleil, a shanty town of 350,000 on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince.
Webbert traveled with a professor and a handful of University of Miami classmates.
Austin Webbert, a 2005 graduate of North Yarmouth Academy, is a University of Miami senior studying Latin American Studies. He was originally scheduled to return to Miami at the end of the week.
“We’re just trying to get them out,” Susan Webbert said.
She’s been in contact with officials at the University of Miami, who are attempting to orchestrate an evacuation of the students.
“They don’t know where he is,” she said. “That complicates the plan.”
The closest thing to assurance the Webberts have gotten is a message posted early Wednesday morning on CNN’s iReport.com by a student who is part of Austin’s travel group.
“We were leaving a restaurant today at 4:50 p.m.,” the message from Kristina Rosales reads. “When we got in the car, the entire world shook on us. A building fell next to us and, thanks to God, we are all alive.
“The country is a disaster. We ran for about half a mile thinking a tsunami was coming since we were in the lower side of Port-au-Prince, then walked almost half of Port-au-Prince and saw so many people dying, buildings down, people trapped and kids crying.”