(Miami-Dade County, FL) -- Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jean Monestime, the first Haitian-American County Commissioner in United States, will honor several community agencies located in Miami-Dade County who were instrumental during Haiti’s 2010 earthquake. MDFR Assistant Chief Karls Paul-Noel and MDFR Urban Search and Rescue Team will also be recognized for their indispensable labor during Haiti’s greatest tragedy. The victims will have the opportunity to share their stories of survival including witnessing how Port-au-Prince's morgues were quickly overwhelmed with many tens of thousands of bodies having to be buried in mass graves. The victims still have disturbing vivid images in their minds. This event will take place on Wednesday, January 12, 2011 at 9:00 a.m. at the Commission Chamber, 2nd floor of the Stephen P. Clark Center, 111 N.W 1st Street.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue (MDFR) Assistant Chief Karls Paul-Noel, who was named one of the World's Most Influential People in 2010 by Time magazine, will be recognized for his efforts in Haiti after the devastating earthquake. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani wrote a praiseworthy endorsement in the Time magazine article attributing the chief with being the highest-ranking Haitian-American firefighter in the nation. Chief Paul-Noel has been an active member of MDFR's Urban Search and Rescue Team since 1987 and has responded to disasters worldwide. The Chief is a highly experienced 26-year veteran, having worked on some of the department's busiest suppression and rescue units and has served as a recruit instructor and training captain before being promoted. As a chief, he has overseen South Operations, Special Operations, Training and Safety, and Technical and Support Services. He currently oversees the more than 2,000 uniformed personnel at MDFR as the Chief of Operations.
“As another Haitian-American I feel blessed and pleased to know that Haitians in United States are displaying immaculate talents in their chosen fields, said Commissioner Monestime. “Many individuals from various ethnic backgrounds will be honored for sacrificing their personal time from their own families to help the victims of this terrible earthquake; these Miami-Dade residents are just ordinary people doing extraordinary work.”
On January 12, 2010, just before 5 p.m. Haiti was impacted by 7.0 in magnitude earthquake, the worst in 200 years. The quake struck less than ten miles from the country’s capital, Port-au-Prince. The initial earthquake was later followed by twelve aftershocks greater than magnitude 5.0. Structures of all kinds were damaged or collapsed, from shantytown homes to national landmarks including the Presidential Palace, the National Assembly building, the Port-au-Prince Cathedral, and the main jail. The headquarters of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), located in the capital, collapsed, killing many, including the Mission's Chief, Hédi Annabi. The Haitian government reported that an estimated three million people were affected by the quake; and approximately 230,000 people died, 300,000 had been injured and 1,000,000 made homeless. They also indicated that 250,000 residences and 30,000 commercial buildings had collapsed or were severely damaged. Among those killed were Archbishop of Port-au-Prince Joseph Serge Miot, and opposition leader Micha Gaillard.