One year ago today, Donnie and Cindy Rogers witnessed the most devastating natural disaster of this century -- the Haiti earthquake.
As ministers and missionaries with Martinez-based Life Ministries International, the couple were preparing to return home on Jan. 12, 2010, from a mission trip to the impoverished island nation when a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck.
"We called the children to tell them goodbye," Mrs. Rogers said. "We thought that was it."
The Haitian government estimated that the earthquake and subsequent aftershocks killed more than 200,000, injured another 250,000 and left 2 million people homeless, according to an Associated Press article published in January 2010.
Thousands died while entombed beneath the rubble of fallen buildings.
Fortunately for the Rogers and their traveling companions -- Life Ministries children's pastor Lisa Adams and Tennessee physician Marty Schnell -- their hotel in Port-au-Prince withstood the quake. Once out of immediate danger, the foursome tended to the injured as best they could until airplane service resumed and they flew home.
But the memories of the event still haunted them.
"Every time I hear a pick-up truck rumble I jump, even today," Mrs. Rogers said. "We were at church the other day and somebody was rolling a cart down a hall and I had to catch myself from falling to the ground."
Mr. Rogers said he frequently relives the event.
"We were in Uganda ... in September and they had a little tremor. It sent me back almost immediately," he said. "It's just such a weird feeling. People in California can get used to it, but this old Georgia boy can barely take it."
Despite the psychological scars, the Rogers have returned to Haiti five times since the earthquake to minister and offer medical aid. Mr. Rogers was a paramedic and Mrs. Rogers is a former nurse.
"It's almost harder to stay here, because there is so much devastation, so much need," Mrs. Rogers said. "Everything has changed for those people. It's kind of hard to live in this blessed country knowing that."
They even have taken their 9-year-old grandaughter, Brooke Rogers, with them on mission trips.
"We have so much and they have nothing," Brooke said. "Sometimes I make bracelets to take so the kids there will have something."
Brooke, a pupil at Stevens Creek Elementary School, has been to Haiti on three occasions since she was 7 to help in medical clinics. Her most recent trip was in October, just before a deadly cholera outbreak that has thus far killed more than 3,300 people, according to an article published by Yahoo Health on Dec. 30.
Mrs. Rogers and Adams were in Haiti last month to treat cholera victims. She and her husband intend to return for six days on Jan. 24 to help the residents of La Source, a village on La Gonave island off the Western coast of Haiti, build latrines.
Anyone wishing to help the Rogers with their efforts in Haiti can do so by donating on the Life Ministries Web site, www.lifeaugusta.com, and clicking on a link marked for Haiti.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.