Day 4: Calais makes it to Haiti!

Eric is now safely in Port-au-Prince (PaP) with Haitian colleagues. The GPS equipment is temporarily being held at the airport.  Here in the DR we’ve made arrangements to travel to the border by car tomorrow morning. The plan is to meet some of our Haitian colleagues in Jimani (the border town) at noon and then continue-on to PaP. Today the goal is to ensure we have enough provisions for ~5 days.


Estelle and Andy working at breakfast.

Update (6:00 pm): Today was dedicated to finding provisions for at least our first 5 days in Haiti. After talking with several people who have just returned from Haiti, we have decided to take with us as much food and water as possible.  Santo Domingo has become a major staging area for people who are not connected with the major aid organizations, but are trying to get into Haiti to help.  As a result, the DR is providing free water for anyone  who can bring to those in need.

The Dominican Republic is providing free water to people who will be crossing the border and able to distribute to those in need. We took this picture at a distribution center in Santo Domingo.

Our group also had the privilege of being interviewed by the main television station in the DR. We spent an hour discussing seismic hazards in the region and explaining how our work will help people better understand the dangers associated with living in an earthquake prone area.


Alicia Ortega with SIN, the largest news network in the Dominican Republic interviewing the crew.

This from Eric:

I finally made it to Port au Prince on January 28 at 3:30 am flying jump seat on a 727 flown by Amerijet, with the GPS gear in cargo. This was made possible thanks to Purdue AvTech (Mike Suckow and Brent Bowen) who put us in contact with Aerosevice in Miami, then thanks to superb help from Steven Daun and Mike Visconti at Aeroservice. A big thank you as well to captain Jim, copilot Eric, and the flight engineer on the Amerijet 727 for a superb night flight into PAP. Abel Nazaire (Haiti Civil Protection) came to meet me, later joined by Dieuseul Anglade (Director of the Bureau of Mines and Energy) and Robert Momplaisir (Beta Engineering). After a breakfast at Roberte’s place (her family and neighbors are still camping in their yard) we cleared the GPS equipment out of customs (whole morning, as usual) then secured it at the Bureau of Mines. Their lab at Delmas 31 is still standing, their HQ further up in town totally destroyed.  Luckily everyone left at 4:30 and the earthquake occurred at 5, so no one was hurt. I then met Claude Prepetit, my main collaborator in Haiti. We discussed the latest scientific information about the earthquake, in particular the InSAR data (ALOS) and a preliminary slip model that I calculated before leaving. We then discussed the logistics of the field work with the BME colleagues, reserved for cars, and budgeted the expedition. I reached Voila (cell phone company) headquarters in Petionville at the end of the day and meet with Gerard Laborde, Bernard Fils-Aime.
Very warm welcome and interesting discussions. They give me a local (Voila) phone – thank you Voila! We are considering locating some of continuous GPS at their field facilities, which would also give us access to remote communication. The plan today is to pick up the rest of the GPS crew at the Haiti/DR border.



  1. Jerry Cook Said:

    Good luck(: We were wondering if you would be helping the people who were devastated by the earthquake or just working with the scientific parts of the earthquake?

    The Seventh Grade Class

    • haitigps Said:

      Our work can be view as long-term humanitarian aid as we seek to better understand the seismic hazards that the Haitian people will face in the future, to help advise them how to rebuild. In the immediate time-frame, we will do what we can, such as leave much of our camping equipment behind.

  2. Bellzie Said:

    How long does it take to study the consequences of the Jan 12 earthquake ? were can we read up on your results so we are not caught by surprise yet again?

    • haitigps Said:

      It will take us probably us 3 weeks after our return to process the GPS data (it is unfortunately a tedious process), then another week to full understand the ramifications of the results with regards to calculations of how the seismic hazard situation has changed. We will share these results with other colleagues who will also make assessments of the seismic hazards. You should begin to see results published on websites associated with the National Science Foundation (who is funding this work), UNAVCO (who has donated equipment), and the USGS (who’s scientists are some of the best in the world at understanding seismic hazards). But remember, nobody will be able to predict when the next earthquake will occur, we will only be able to identify where seismic risk is greatest – and that will certainly be along the Enriquillo Fault to the east and west of the region that ruptured.

  3. Jerry Cook Said:

    Hello. This is the seventh grade earth science class. We are wondering if you are worried for your safety because you have food and other people don’t, or because of other after shocks? When you are there will you sleep in tents or a hotel or what? LOVE the seventh grade and especially Hot mess.

    • haitigps Said:

      Thanks for your note. Though we are anxious, we will always be in the company of Haitian colleagues that we trust with our safety. As for food and water, we are bringing in as much as we can and hope to share what we can. We plan on doing a lot of camping while in Haiti, certainly when we are anywhere near the Port-au-Prince are, as there are not hotels available to stay at and aftershocks remain a concern. We also intend to leave our camping equipment when we leave the country to help out in any small way we can. Andy

      • Jerry Cook Said:

        Greetings from the 7th grade! How much food are you guys taking along for the trip to Haiti? And if you guys are bringing alot, how much are u bringing of each kind, and what types of food do you guys have? Your very, very dear fellow 7th graders. 😮

  4. Great news. We are following your work and are here if you need anything. In case this is of help
    USTRANSCOM offers air and sea lift instructions for NGOs conducting humanitarian relief
    By Army Maj. James Lowe, U.S. Transportation Command Public Affairs


  5. Brandi Said:

    I’m curious why the equipment was held up at the airport. Is it a problem? Is it extra security? Is it legal documents regarding equipment import that is holding it up.

    • haitigps Said:

      Customs with the US Military. 2/3 of the equipment at least has been collected already, perhaps all by the time of this response.

  6. Jerry Cook Said:

    Salutations my fellow bloggers. What are your most memorable moments ? ! ? ! ? What kind of vehicles are you taking on your journey to Haiti(: ! ? It is really fascinating that you guys are going to Haiti, to learn all the stuff about the earth quake! You are officially my heroes. I love you.

    -Alien Kommunicator(:

  7. Jerry Cook Said:

    Hello, this is the seventh grade science class. We were wondering if any of you guys speak french? We send you guys an air high five and wish you good luck! (:

    • haitigps Said:

      Estelle Chaussard and Eric Calais both are native French speakers. Thanks for Hi5.

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