Tragedy in Haiti hits home - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Tragedy in Haiti hits home

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SUN PRAIRIE (WKOW) -- To some, the disaster left by the earthquake in Haiti on Tuesday is a world away. To Jan Byrd of Sun Prairie, the tragedy couldn't be closer to home.

Byrd is a volunteer coordinator for the Haiti Project, a group based out of the Milwaukee Episcopal Dioceses. She has visited Haiti six times.

"By the fourth time I went, it was like, 'Okay, Haiti, we're home,'" said Byrd. "It just felt very comfortable. I don't know what it would be like to go back now."

The news of Tuesday's magnitude 7.0 earthquake shook Byrd more than 3,000 miles away in her Sun Prairie home. She spent nearly 24 hours on the phone, looking for any information about two young men from the Haiti Project who were volunteering in Haiti at the time of the earthquake.

James Tamplin and Andrew Lee, both 25 years old, were on a rooftop when the earthquake hit Port-au-Prince Tuesday. They were 70 miles away from the earthquake's epicenter in the town of Jeannette.

With word that the Haiti project volunteers are safe, Byrd can breathe a sigh of relief. Now her thoughts turn to the hundreds of Haitian people she calls friends, and the beautiful country she loves.

Byrd received an email from the volunteer coordinator in Haiti, saying a number of the churches the group works with are completely destroyed.

"The cathedral and everything is gone in Port-au-Prince," said Byrd. "It's just heartbreaking."

Byrd says it's going to be an uphill climb for a country that's already struggled so much.

"They're not able to meet the basic needs of the people right now, or before the earthquake, so it's just going to be much worse. Let's hope that the whole world responds to this and sends the aid that's needed," said Byrd.

Byrd says there is an incredible amount of work left to be done in Haiti, but right now the group's priority is to get its two volunteers home.

To learn more about the Haiti Project or to donate to its cause of improving the impoverished country, visit the group's website.

Online reporting by Jamie Hersch
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