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Hoosier man in Haiti during earthquake recounts moments of terror

Gary Boice has been traveling to Haiti with the nonprofit he created, Tek4Kids, since 2006. He's seen many a storm there, but never fear like this.

JEREMIE, Haiti — As the ground shook, Gary Boice remembers his son forcing him down five flights of stairs. 

The pair fled for their lives and emerged to chaos in the streets. 

"It was unbelievable, I couldn't believe the building held together but it did," Boice said.  

The same couldn’t be said for the rest of Jeremie, Haiti – a town in the upper northwest corner of the country long regarded as a hub for art and poetry. 

It now lay in near ruins. 

Credit: Gary Boice
Images taken from Boice's drone show the destruction in Jeremie, Haiti after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake nearly destroyed the town last Sunday.

Church bells that used to greet worshipers every Sunday near the town square fell silent before they got a chance to ring, after a 7.2 earthquake shook the country last week.  

Boice spends over half his year in Haiti with the nonprofit he started called Tek4Kids, an organization out of New Albany, Indiana, that provides technology, electricity and purified water to local school children.   

“Done a good job of working with people, educating the students," he said. 

His work began in 2006, so this isn’t the first disaster Boice has weathered in Haiti. He remembers watching the eye of Category 5 Hurricane Matthew slam into the town back in 2016.

But the type of fear he has seen after this earthquake is more palpable. 

Credit: Gary Boice

"Haitians have had so many problems in the past that they have very much a fear of it because they've lost so many relatives," he said. 

The booms and tremors have not stopped yet. Boice said he felt over 20 earthquakes within a 30-mile radius over the past few days. 

“Every time the ground shakes, tremors, everyone starts running and screaming," he said. 

The death toll continues to rise. As of Tuesday, at least 1,400 people were reported dead.    

RELATED: Haiti quake death toll rises to 1,419, injured now at 6,000

Boice is staying to help, distributing water to people in need and does not plan to leave until September. 

Credit: Gary Boice
Gary Boice and his wife, Catherine, pose with local school children affiliated with the non-profit Tek4Kids.

“They always say, 'Why stay during a crisis?' Well, crises are the opportunity to help, that’s the opportunity to help. That’s why we’re here," he said. 

He said many of the people in Jeremie are sleeping outside, but that may change with the arrival of Tropical Storm Grace. 

The storm drenched Haiti in rain Monday and has not let up, creating more deadly problems for a country that has yet to see an end to them. 

RELATED: Anger grows in Haiti as tropical storm moves through

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