Haiti quake 'like hell on Earth': N.L. survivor

A Glovertown, N.L., man who was in Haiti when a massive earthquake struck Tuesday has returned to Canada, and describes the destruction in the country as unbelievable.

Man says he was in 'right place at the right time' to survive

Emerson Oram of Glovertown, N.L., was in Haiti on a business trip with his brother, Vaden, when the area was struck by an earthquake. ((CBC))
A Glovertown, N.L., man who was in Haiti when a massive earthquake struck Tuesday has returned to Canada, and describes the destruction in the country as unbelievable.

"Everything is devastated," Emerson Oram told CBC News on Friday morning. "It's unbelievable to be there and to see the devastation — it's almost too much to believe."

Oram and his brother, Vaden, arrived in Montreal overnight. They were in Haiti's capital of Port-au-Prince, where most of the earthquake was centred, this week on business.

For the two days before their return to Canada, the brothers were living in the parking lot of their hotel.

"Every building has collapsed, totally to the ground," he said.

Emerson Oram said he and his brother were in their hotel when the earthquake started, and when the entire building started to shake, people started running.

"It was a horrifying five minutes that I can hardly describe how terrible it was," he said.

"We ran through the hallway through the back of the hotel into the open field, and when we got there, the pole lines were coming down, all the trees and lamp poles were moving, and then we noticed all the buildings out around was all collapsed around us."

Brothers suffered back, neck injuries

Oram said people were terrified.

"People were just screaming and falling on the ground, bleeding. Children was running without their parents, mothers running without their children, and it was just one horrifying 15, 20 minutes with these people.

"I told someone tonight it was just like hell on Earth."

Oram and his brother suffered minor back and neck injuries as they smacked into hotel beams while running to get out of the building.

Oram later drove through downtown Port-au-Prince, and saw hundreds of dead people on the streets.

He said his brother, who accompanied CNN reporter Anderson Cooper on a drive through the devastated city of Port-au-Prince, had a much more traumatic experience.

"When he came back, he said, 'Emerson, there's bodies by the thousands, and heads, you know, the limbs just gone and children just cut in half.' It's just awful."

Oram said he believes he and his brother are lucky to be alive.

Vaden Oram, above, and his brother flew out of Haiti on a Canadian Forces plane. ((CBC))
"I just left a government building, myself and Vaden, downtown, and I was only gone about 30 minutes when all that street collapsed and everyone was killed into it. I only had a 20- to 30-minute opportunity to be in the right place at the right time. If that had not been, we would've been definitely killed," he said.

As for getting out of the country, Oram said he got word Thursday from an American diplomat that he and his brother should head for the airport if they wanted to leave.

Fight for planes to leave Haiti

He said it was a near riot as people fought to get on the few planes flying out of Port-au-Prince.

"There was about 500 people outside, and the airport was blocked and they wouldn't allow any more in, and there was fighting, fist fighting, starting to happen there," he said.

"We went down further from the airport, went in through a gate to the — I think it was operated by the Dominican Republic — and got permission to go out on the runway because I saw a large military, Canadian Armed Forces flight there."

The Orams flew on the military plane to Miami and then on to Montreal.

Oram said even though he's now safely in Canada, he hasn't been able to sleep because of the horrific memories of the earthquake and its aftermath.

The brothers are now trying to make travel plans to fly back to their home in central Newfoundland.