January 26, 2010
Canadian describes Haiti quake ordealWas there to help set up Haitian building code
By QMI Agency
QUEBEC CITY - From his hospital bed in Quebec City, Andre Gobeil said he's not sure how he survived after the Haiti earthquake pancaked the Hotel Montana in Port-au-Prince, where he was staying on Jan. 12.
“If I’m alive today, it’s a miracle in itself,” Gobel said.
Ironically, he was in Haiti to provide some assistance in helping Haitians set up their own building security code.
Before the disaster, Gobeil was staying in a room on the fifth and top floor of the Hotel Montana.
A few moments before the first earthquake occurred, he was on a Skype call with his sister.
I took off my headphones and things started to shake quite a bit. It reminded me of the earthquake we had in Quebec about 20 years ago”, he said.
Then the other tremors started.
"The floor, everything, started to shake. I could hear things piling up, noises, detonations, glass shattering all over the place. People were screaming, and then the floor just disappeared under my feet. That’s when I started sliding; the floor simply fell.”
Floor after floor, the building started to collapse. Gobeil said he thought it was the end of the world. When he opened his eyes, the cloud of smoke, dust and debris started to dissipate and he suddenly realized that there were no more walls and that he had fallen all the way down to the hotel’s parking lot level.
Injured on the left side of his body, the architect from Quebec started to yell for help. A hotel employee pulled him out of the debris.
During the night, more tremors shook the ground, and Gobeil watched other buildings collapse around him.
"As soon as there was a good tremor, everybody was in a frenzy”, said Gobeil.
Eventually, doctors and UN aid workers arrived to bring some help.
After several painful hours, Gobeil was brought back to Montreal, then to hospital in Quebec City, where he is now recovering from a compound fracture of the femur.
Gobeil is critical of the way Foreign Affairs has managed communications with relatives of people in Haiti.
"Foreign Affairs contacted her (his wife) around last weekend to ask if I was still at the hospital in Miami,” said Gobeil, who never actually was in a hospital in Miami.