Diary from Haiti: 2010/02/23 – The Dogs are going crazy

by Ruth Bücker/FBA,  2010/02/24

While yesterday I still wondered why I could not feel the earth trembling – although I had been weakened by two weeks of hard work – I definitely noticed the earthquake last night. Shortly after two o’clock in the morning everything around me started creaking, rumbling and shaking.

I had only just lain down in my tent and in order to relax a bit I wanted to read a few pages in my book, when the earthquake started. It is difficult to describe this situation. I think that, at first, I did not completely understand what was going on around me. And before I actually realized what was happening, everything was over again.

I had never before heard a sound like the one caused by the earthquake: it is a crumbling, rumbling, booming and grinding sound, somehow all these sounds are mixed together. Disquieting. What also alarmed me, was the deafening barking of the local dogs.

Tents are the safest place to spend the night. Photo: humedica/Ruth Bücker

The same way canaries had been used as an early warning system for too little oxygen in underground mining, the Haitian dogs warn people of imminent earthquakes.

If the dogs start barking like crazy at night, than they are either feeling an earthquake so weak that humans do not notice it at all. Or – by means of their sensitive ears – they are already hearing the first low rumbling which warns of the next earthquake. Humans notice these earthquakes only much later.

Knowing this, I am now immediately alarmed by the sound of barking dogs. At times like this, the barking of dogs is almost an eerie sound. After the first earthquake this night, we stood in a clear area waiting and wondering whether the earth would start shaking again. But we were lucky; during this night, the earth calmed down once more, and we could go to sleep.

I think that after the experience of this night, I can understand the people better, who had lived though the devastating earthquake five weeks ago. I am very grateful for the fact that we had built a new, larger tent for the patients yesterday. Maybe our patients had been able to sleep a little better in this tent tonight.

You too can help the people in Haiti:

humedica e.V.
Donation reference “Earthquake Haiti”
Account 47 47
Bank Code 734 500 00
Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

Please also donate online. Thank you very much.

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