Hugh Lessig '80 Reports from Haiti

From a distance, flying over Port-au-Prince in a Navy helicopter the size of a bus, the damage didn't look so bad. "The one-story cinder block buildings all seemed to be standing," said Hugh Lessig '80, a reporter for the Daily Press in Newport News, Va., recalling his arrival in Haiti shortly after the devastating earthquake. "But when we got closer, I realized it was an optical illusion. All of those buildings originally were two stories—they pancaked in the quake, and the people who were inside them had no place to go."

Top: Haitian earthquake survivors try to continue living in their nearly-leveled homes. Above: Villagers from Pandou watch members of the US Navy and US Marines come ashore, unloading bulldozers and other heavy equipment necessary for creating supply lines. Photos by Joe Fudge/Daily Press.

Embedded with the USS Bataan, a U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship, Lessig was sent to Haiti to cover the U.S. military's relief efforts. (Read Hugh's articles and Twitter reports here.) Departing on January 14 (two days after the quake), the ship arrived in Haiti five days later, after stopping at Camp Lejeune, N.C., to pick up 1,300 Marines.

The military's primary role is to provide immediate aid by establishing supply lines, Hugh explained. Equipped with bulldozers and dump trucks, the Marines created a connection four miles inland from a base camp established earlier by the Navy. The supply lines will allow food and water to reach the desperate quake survivors, rather than bottleneck on the shore.

"In the countryside, where we were, the people were welcoming, friendly, and very happy the military was there," said Hugh, who has reported for the Daily Press for the past thirteen years, much of that time as a state political reporter. "Many told me they wished the U.S. would take over the country."

"I believe the military will be here for a while," he added. "Their role probably will be redefined ... it's likely they will stay to build roads, schools, and other infrastructure."

Hugh, who returns to the Lehigh Valley a few times a year to visit family members in Wind Gap, Pa., encountered two Lehigh Valley natives during his six-day stay in Haiti. "I was interviewing a Navy chaplain while wearing a Moravian College lanyard, and he told me he was originally from Allentown," said Hugh. "I also met a civilian contractor from Easton. Small world."

An Invitation from the Alumni Home Club of the Greater Lehigh Valley

Looking for something to do Saturday, February 20? There's plenty of exciting basketball in Johnston Hall!
Come cheer on the Hounds as they rival the University of Scranton.

The members of the Alumni Home Club of the Greater Lehigh Valley invite you to join them for these Senior Day games. All alumni and their families will be given free admission tickets. After the games, join them at Starters's at the Bethlehem Golf Club (Illick's Mill Road) for refreshments (pay your own way).

Game times: 2:00 p.m., women's; 4:00 p.m., men's
Seniors and their parents will be recognized prior to each game.

To receive your free tickets, please register online by February 15. Call Barbara Parry in the Alumni Office at 610 861-1366 if you have any questions.

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