In his second heart wrenching interview with RadarOnline.com, Heroes star Jimmy Jean-Louis exclusively reports back Monday on the devastation of his beloved homeland of Haiti, as he combs through the rubble with rescuers and tries to get aid to those in the most desperate of need – which is no easy task in a country where so many people are literally crying out for help.
It’s now estimated as many as 200,000 people may have been killed and 1.5 million people were left homeless when the catastrophic 7.0 earthquake hit Haiti last Tuesday.
As Jean-Louis travels around the land, he continues to witness horrifying scenes of devastation: bodies buried under rubble, piles of dead bodies lining the streets, and burning bodies strewn by the road side. Many survivors, left starving, are scrabbling for food at any opportunity. Jean-Louis reports though that, thankfully, that there is a rescue mission underway, albeit desperately underfunded and understaffed.
“It was a busy day, everyday here is busy,” Jean-Louis reports to RadarOnline.com from Haiti’s already impoverished capital Port-au-Prince. “I’m still visiting places near my house that collapsed, where we had maybe more than 20 or 50 people that died underneath a supermarket that collapsed. But also I went to visit another supermarket that [had] up to 10 people rescued and even this morning they rescued 2 more. And we’re talking 6 or 7 days after the earthquake. It just sort of, you know you have a sense of the damage.”
Jean-Louis says he feels helpless in the face of such adversity but hopes that he is able to use his celebrity to at least bring more awareness of the tragedy to the world, and that his local knowledge of the country can help bring aid to those in more remote locations that are in desperate need and could be passed over.
“I went areas that nobody else would go,” he says. ” They are small areas where the international organization wouldn’t know how to go there and why to go there. But in those areas they also need help. But it’s true when they see me they are overjoyed. They are like, ‘Oh my god, they are thinking about us’. I didn’t have the goods [to help anyone] with me but you know what I’ve been taking is notes of the places that need help and the people that need help and what kind of help as well.”
The actor says that there are a number of International aid organizations on the ground in Haiti, driving supplies over from Santa Domingo in neighboring Dominican Republic. But unfortunately their knowledge of the geography of the damaged areas is limited so that is where he hopes he can bring the most assistance and help do the most good.
“The organization, Hollywood Unites for Haiti we’re working with, as well as the Pan American Development Foundation and we are also working with The Organization of American States so with them we will be able to access [people], bring shelter and bring foods because we have a base in Santa Domingo, where trucks full of all the goods will cross the border, so we can start supplying the people. And I was about to say for the people that are in need, but in reality, everybody is in need – everybody is in need. So it’s just a question that some spots are not forgotten. And that is essentially what I am trying to do. I am trying to cover the very sensitive spots that I know not too many people speak about but at the same time they need it as much as the ones that everybody knows is a horrible slum.”
Jean-Louis says that, understandably, the starving people are getting desperate and starting to loot, and as images of increasing violence between peacekeeping troops, the remaining police force and would be looters in Haiti are broadcast evermore over the TV waves, the actor says timing is of the essence and that there is no time to waste in getting help to the poor suffering people.
“Here is what I’ve been seeing, for example at the supermarket where you have 10′s of bodies that are buried underneath, I saw a huge caterpillar [construction vehicle] just destroying the debris and every time that machine stops you have up to 100 people rush into the debris and try to get whatever they can [from the ruins]. And when I say that some people might be able to get papers, some people might be able to get soap, get sugar, some water, maybe not water because it might be completely dry, but also they might be able to get pieces of human bodies. And that creates some weird atmosphere, because people are so desperate. Yes they have been shouting about it because they’re just hungry so they take whatever they need to take. Mind you they have people underneath but they don’t care, they just take whatever food they can take. That was
pretty harsh to watch.”
Jean-Louis says that it is heartening though to see people from all over the world descending on his crushed homeland, concerted in an effort to bring relief to the suffering millions of survivors.
“Today I met some great rescuers from America,” Jean Louis says. “One from New England and a youngster from Los Angeles. The gentleman from New England was also at the World Trade Center. He was one of the people rescuing the people in need at the World Trade Center and he lost a lot of his firefighter friends. And that guy set an example for me. He went to my [demolished] house because there was a dead body under my house, and right when I was seeing it for the first time in the daytime, that’s when they showed up. They were trying [to see] if they could still see that person to see [if they were alive]. People are there to help. Maybe not enough, sometimes maybe not everywhere – sometimes – but because they surprised me by just being there when they weren’t call by us. So I thought, yes something is being done, something is being done.”
Sadly though, Jean-Louis concludes that though there is “something being done”, so much more needs to be done in reality, and fast.
“The number one thing people need now is food,” he tells RadarOnline.com. ” Before it was time to be rescued and being treated, and they still need that, but now they need food. People are hungry, people are hungry and they are thirsty. People are desperate, desperate and starving.
“People also need shelters, anything, even just a tent because a lot of people are just sleeping outside on the concrete, you know because they are not sure, some of them still have houses and they’re afraid the house could collapse on them.”
And even though there are inevitably horrors being committed in the country as people scrabble to survive, there are still stories of inspiration and bravery amongst the devastated peoples of Haiti. Jean-Louis shares one story regarding a juvenile prison that had been demolished in the quake, allowing a reported 300 prisoners to escape.
“It’s a tragedy. Funny enough, I went to visit the prison just 3, maybe 4 weeks ago, that’s when I went down to Haiti with ["House" actress] Olivia Wilde. Actually she was there doing a visit to that prison for kids, for under 18-years-old, for minors. What I know about that prison (because I do know about that prison, because I don’t like to speculate), yes, they all got out. They are everywhere. Some of them might be doing bad things and some of them might actually be trying to help.
“Funny enough 3 of [the escaped prisoners] went back to a hospital and started to help that hospital. So out of all those [escapees], the right number was 260 kids, apparently 3 of them went back to the hospital and started to help. So in the midst of all that you still have some heroic acts.”
Please do your part to be a hero and to help the suffering people of Haiti. You can donate online to Hollywood Unites For Haiti, or The Pan American Development Foundation, or The Organization Of American States, or you can donate to the Red Cross via your cell phone: text “HAITI” TO 90999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross’ efforts there, amount will be billed to your monthly statement.