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For Willmar family, Haiti quake leaves slew of fears unanswered

WILLMAR -- Sara and Mike Carlson spent a tense day Wednesday wondering -- about earthquake damage in Haiti, about people they know, about what to tell their two children who were born there.

The two youngest Carlson children, 10 and 12, were adopted in Haiti and came home to Willmar seven years ago.

A number of other families in the area also have adopted children from Haiti.

"It's been a tense and anxiety-ridden day," Sara Carlson said in a telephone interview Wednesday afternoon. The children have some memories of Haiti, she said, and she has tried to find an age-appropriate way to explain the situation there.

The country has never had a centralized communication system, she said, and keeping track of friends and of birth family members has always been difficult. Now, there's no way to get in touch, and it's possible they'll never know what happened to some of the people they know.

Carlson said she was pleased to learn that the U.S. embassy is still standing, and the airport at Port-au-Prince is still able to operate in a limited way.

Helping the tiny nation recover will be a test for the rest of the world, Carlson said. She said she was happy to see the United States mobilizing relief efforts so quickly.

"It's hard for people who haven't experienced a third world country to understand" how difficult it will be, she said.

Many of the single-family homes are made of cinderblocks with corrugated tin roofs, she said, and they are loosely constructed, built bit by bit as people can afford them.

"This is significant," she added. "The little bit of infrastructure they did have is non-existent."

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

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