Memphis woman who survived Haiti quake shares her story

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A Memphis woman who survived Tuesday's earthquake in Haiti said she believes God spared her life.

Deborah DeWitt explained the moments after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

"You're just shaking," DeWitt said.  "You're tense.  All of your muscles are tight because you've been holding on."

DeWitt told fellow Mississippi Boulevard Baptist Church members that God called her and ten other Nashville Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) missionaries to Haiti.

"I didn't have any special skills," DeWitt said, "I just went."

The morning of the quake, DeWitt's group toured Haiti and then made a stop at a grocery store.

"We purchased what we wanted, we got back in the van and before our leader could even close the door, the ground was moving, the van was moving and the store that we had been in collapsed," DeWitt said.

DeWitt said the store collapsed literally seconds after her group had left it.

They went back to their guest house to find six people been buried there.  They slept where they could.

DeWitt said the aftershocks were just as frightening as the quake.

"They were almost as bad as the earthquake and they just kept going on all night," DeWitt said.

The next morning, their house manager told them they were no longer safe where they were.  He drove them to the U.S. Embassy.  A U.S. Coast Guard plane picked them up Wednesday night.
DeWitt made it back to Memphis Thursday.

"When I got out of Haiti, as soon as I called my son, I just broke down," DeWitt said.

DeWitt said she is now composed because she learned she did have a skill for this mission.

"He sent us there for a reason and He saved us for a reason, so that we could come back to the U.S. and tell the people of the world about Haiti," DeWitt said.

She described Haiti as wonderful.

"Even though there's poverty everywhere, there's always a sense of community,'" DeWitt said.

DeWitt said she plans to visit Haiti to focus on the orphanages.

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