'Here He Is!': Haiti Survivor's Big U.S. Welcome

Wife waited for days: "From ... 'He's going to be fine,' to ... 'He's gone.'"

January 15, 2010, 2:28 PM

Jan. 16, 2010— -- For nearly two days after the earthquake in Haiti Tuesday, Randi Naimoli, 52, heard nothing from her husband, Anthony, 53.

Her mind began to fill the silence.

"It was a roller coaster of emotions," she said. "We'd go from one moment, 'He's going to be fine,' to the next moment, 'He's gone, we just know he's gone.'"

Anthony Naimoli had been in Haiti on business, staying at the now-crumbled Hotel Montana. His large Italian-American family back home in Plainview, N.Y., didn't know if he, too, was under the rubble.

Family members spent two nights glued to TV and Facebook, but there was no mention of their husband and father. As with so many other desperate families, Naimoli's family found that getting through on the phone was impossible.

"I called the White House, I called FEMA, I called Homeland Security," said Kristen Naimoli, 24, who is married to Anthony's son Justin, 26. "Everyone was giving me different numbers ... because no one had any answers."

As time passed, the family started to lose hope.

"You start to say, he would have contacted us by now," Naimoli's son Erik, 24, told ABC News. "I know my father, and my father would've contacted us."

Then, late Thursday, they got a phone call.

It was Anthony. He'd been sleeping outdoors, along with thousands of others.

He'd been trying to call his family, too.

The Coast Guard had picked him up from Port au Prince, Haiti, and had flown him to Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic.

"He told me he lost everything, he had the clothes on his back," Randi said. "I said, 'But you're coming home. That's all that matters. You're coming home.'"

Friday night the entire extended family, nearly two dozen people, caravanned to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.

"I just can't actually wait to actually physically touch him and see him," Theresa Naimoli, 52, told ABC News as she waited for her brother-in-law. She added, "We just want him back home."

Family members carried balloons reading "Welcome home daddy!" and a sign with pictures of Anthony's pet Chihuahuas.

Never before had they celebrated a homecoming like this.

"Oh, this is them," Randi said as the passengers from Santo Domingo started trickling through the gate. "Where, where?" others shouted. "Here he is."

Anthony emerged carrying no bags but smiling. His family rushed to meet him, throwing their arms around him.

"Are you OK?" Randi asked her husband, sobbing.

"I'm OK," Anthony Naimoli said.

"Lord heard my prayer," said Naimoli's mother, Dolly, 78.

"Welcome back," said his father, Joe, 82, hugging his son. "Welcome back."

Angela Ellis and Maureen White contributed to this report.

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