UW-Madison students safe after Haiti quake

January 13, 2010 By John Lucas

Two separate groups of University of Wisconsin–Madison students are unharmed and accounted for after Tuesday’s catastrophic earthquake near Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

The first group is a team of UW–Madison students traveling with the student organization Engineers Without Borders, UW–Madison. The group is safe in the rural village of Bayonnais, Haiti, approximately 70 miles north of the capital.

Five students and a professional engineering advisor travelled to the country on Sunday, Jan. 10 as part of a project to build a small hydroelectric plant. They reported feeling small tremors in their village.

The team was scheduled to return to the U.S. on Friday, Jan. 15, but has been advised to stay in the village of Bayonnais and continue to work on their EWB project as the United Nations and emergency crews begin responding to the disaster.

University staff from the College of Engineering and the Offices of the Dean of Students are monitoring the situation and are assisting with travel logistics to the extent possible.

In addition, seven current and former UW–Madison students were also in the country as part of the Milwaukee-based Haiti Project.

Five group members returned to the U.S. on Tuesday, hours ahead of the disaster and two others remaining in Haiti have been accounted for.

The volunteers were doing electrical work and trying to establish an Internet connection for a small village in the mountains near the community of Jeannette in the southwest part of the country.

“We’re very thankful that all of our students are unharmed, and wish them a safe return,” says Dean of Students Lori Berquam. “But we recognize how lucky we are and send our thoughts and prayers to the people of Haiti as they cope with this unthinkable catastrophe.”

EWB at UW–Madison has a long history of good works on behalf of the impoverished nation.

Contributions to EWB efforts in Haiti can be made here, and donations to International Red Cross earthquake relief efforts can be made here.