Arlington church members send another group to Haiti

Bodies recovered of Arlington earthquake survivor's former colleagues

ARLINGTON — A team of local church members will be staying at the site of a building in Haiti that collapsed and trapped Arlington resident Katie Zook a month ago.

Eighteen more Free Methodist Church members — including 13 Arlington residents — left Wednesday, Feb. 17, for Port-au-Prince to assist the city in recovering from a devastating earthquake that killed tens of thousands of people in January.

The group arrived less than two days after the bodies of Zook's former colleagues were recovered from the Friends of Haiti Organization building in the Haitian capital.

Free Methodist Church missionaries Rev. Jeanne Acheson-Munos of Indiana and Merle West and Gene Dufour of Michigan had been missing and presumed dead since the January quake. Zook and other missionaries were safely pulled from the toppled building, and Zook is back in Arlington recovering from her injuries with her family.

The church sent a building team to Port-au-Prince to help do church and school repairs, assist a tent city of 1,000 by digging out houses and re-establish the water collection system and site area at the mission compound, said Arlington resident Jeanne Wessel in an e-mail to The Arlington Times.

That group arrived in Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic on Wednesday, Feb. 18 and headed to Haiti on Thursday, Feb. 19, Wessel said.

Additionally, a smaller team from that group will travel to Dessalines Hospital — the location that Wessel and fellow Arlington resident Dr. Jerry Rusher spent nearly a month treating earthquake victims — to work on electrical support, Wessel said.

Rusher is currently still working in Dessalines, a city approximately 90 miles north of Port-au-Prince.

According to an e-mail from Rusher dated Feb. 19, a number of patients in Haiti are being treated for nerve damage, and added that a number of crutches have been handed out.

"It seems that our work here with earthquake victims has been entering a new phase, that being one of rehabilitation of the many recovering from sever crush injuries and fractures," Rusher wrote.

Among the team members joining Rusher will be Dr. Garritt Stanley, who will join Rusher in his efforts, Wessel said.

Other Arlington residents traveling as part of the team include: Ron and Cindy Hansen; Jennifer Hansen; Zack Graham; Cordell Gott; Dick Saul; Dave Clark; Greg Hordyk; Dick and Aaron Sass and Craig Wessel.

Sean and Michelle Kinney of Granite Falls and Chuck Hargrove, David Swetz and Allen Stickney of Lakeside Church in Lake Stevens will also join the group, Jeanne Wessel said.

Once it arrives in Port-au-Prince, Wessel said the team will be staying at the same location of the building that trapped 22-year-old Zook, who was found alive three hours after the earthquake on Jan. 12.

"The team feels blessed and honored to be able to return to help the Haitian people that have become Katie's friends and assisted in her recovery," Wessel said.

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