Haiti's Earthquake Leaves Loved Ones Awaiting News

Americans searching for loved ones have an agonizing wait.

ByABC News via logo
January 13, 2010, 8:40 PM

Jan. 14, 2010— -- Two days after the biggest earthquake in Haiti in more than 200 years struck the capital city of Port-au-Prince, causing widespread death and destruction, desperate Americans and Haitian Americans across the United States struggle to contact family members living or working in the poverty-stricken Caribbean nation.

But that has been nearly impossible. The only thing they get on the other end of the line is a busy signal or none at all.

Kristy Wolley last heard from her husband, Dan, 20 minutes before the magnitude 7.0 earthquake rocked Haiti at 4:53 p.m. ET Tuesday.

Her husband is in Haiti working with the children's relief organization Compassion International. He was returning to his room at the Hotel Montana in Port-au-Prince when the quake hit. He is among the estimated 200 guests who were reported missing in the rubble.

"I go from having hope, because I haven't heard that he's dead to despair that I don't want to live my life without him," she said.

Worried parents in Kansas City, Mo., staff phone lines in hopes of hearing from their daughters, Amanda and Natasha Taylor.

The two women, mission workers, were last known to be at the Sacred Heart Hospital in Port-au-Prince.

"I have hope. ... I'm pretty sure if they're at that hospital, they're probably helping out," Gary Taylor said.

The Wolley and Taylor families are among the thousands of Americans still searching for loved ones. There are 45,000 Americans believed to be living in Haiti.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the State Department has a toll free number for updates about those missing in Haiti. It is (888) 407-4747.

"Please, call that number. Let us know about your loved ones," Clinton said on "Good Morning America" today. "We will try to get information."

With phone lines down in Haiti and unreliable cell phone reception, many people have turned to online networking sites.

People are posting photos and pleas for help in locating friends and family, including a 2-year-old girl, Reyina, on a site called the Kreyol Network.

A Facebook page dedicated to finding people at the Hotel Montana includes worried posts from families of students from Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla.

11 of the 14 people in their group have been reported safe.

"Our priority is to get them home. Whether it is immediately home or somewhere else, that is our priority at the moment," Lynn University spokesman Jason Hughes said.

Kristen Naimoli, 24, posted a photo of her father-in-law, Anthony Naimoli, who was also staying at the Hotel Montana.

"We're just praying, trying to keep the faith up. Really any positive feedback we can get would be great," Naimoli told ABC News.

Some prayers have been answered. The Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville, N.J., received a text message that all 20 of its parishioners serving in Haiti are safe.