Jean-Jacob Jeudy's worst fears came true Monday morning.
That was when he received a call from his brother in Haiti telling him that their 52-year-old sister, her husband and their five children all died in last week's earthquake.
"Sometimes we as humans don't know how to cope when we have lost a friend, but when you lose seven family members, the sentiment in your heart can't be described in words," said Jeudy, an Army second lieutenant at Fort Gordon.
He has other family members who are still unaccounted for, including two aunts, four cousins and one uncle. Jeudy said he is hoping for the best but fears the worst.
Jeudy has received confirmation that two brothers and two sisters are alive. So far, he has been able to speak to only one brother.
"He's the one with a cell phone that works," he said.
Jeudy was born in Haiti in 1970 and came to the U.S. in 1994 to make a better life for himself. He joined the Army in 1996.
Jeudy says he is grateful he has people he can turn to during this tragedy.
"In this dire situation for me, the two people keeping me strong are Rev. Harry Augustin and my Army chaplain. It's a great loss, and without their guidance and prayers, I don't know what I would do."
His wife and 10 children have also been a source of strength. He has six biological children and four adopted children; two of his adopted children also are in the Army.
Augustin, the pastor of Saints Sanctuary First Haitian Church of Augusta, said the news he has received out of Haiti is nothing short of horrific.
"I just talked with my brother and my two sisters. They say everything's destroyed. They don't have anywhere to sleep, no food, they haven't received any assistance yet. The situation is very tough right now. People might still be alive, but they could be close to death," he said.
Jeudy and Augustin say the people they have lost will not be able to receive a proper burial, and that is one of the most distressing aspects of the tragedy.
"I talked to my brother, and everywhere it smells like decay from all of the corpses," Jeudy said. "Everybody's just buried in mass graves. It's like you're losing your family twice."
Jeudy said the outpouring of love and support from the community has been encouraging and that, in spite of all his personal suffering, he still believes hope is on the horizon.
"The Haitian people are going through this, but they don't give up," he said.
"So far, what we've seen is that the American people and international community are not giving up either."
Reach Jonathan Overstreet at (706) 823-3708 or email@example.com.
WANT TO HELP?
Saints Sanctuary First Haitian Church of Augusta has set up a relief fund through Wachovia bank.
Monetary donations may be mailed to Saints Sanctuary First Haitian Church of Augusta, P.O. Box 15384, Augusta GA 30919.
Donations also may be taken to the church at 3030 Milledgeville Road, Augusta.