Vero Beach volunteer uses YouTube to spread word from Haiti

HAITI — A Vero Beach man and co-founder of is using the power of YouTube to send word from Haiti to his homeland, telling the world about the circumstances the people are facing nearly a week after the devastating earthquake struck the impoverished nation.

John Engle and his family had gone to Haiti before the earthquake but found themselves witnessing first-hand the destruction of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck the afternoon of Jan. 12. In the days following the earthquake, Engle and his family, including a brother-in-law, have posted nearly a dozen videos on YouTube, several of which serve as a visual record of the wreckage the quake left behind.

Other videos, though, Engle uses to explain how his family has been functioning as well as to share the stories of Haitians who have lost everything, yet are grateful for being alive.

“By God’s grace, I’m still living and we don’t have anyone who died,” Engle says, translating a statement he says he hears from many of the Haitians with whom he has spoken.

Engle’s latest video was taped Sunday evening, during which he outlines what they have done that day and their outlook for the days ahead.

“We’re comfortable here,” he says of the place where his family is currently staying, which was not seriously damaged in the earthquake. However, by Sunday, the family was down to enough water, gasoline and money for just one more day.

“We’re a little bit on edge,” Engle says.

Engle started the day visiting what had been a 6-story apartment building his brother-in-law had been living in on the first floor. The family member was able to escape through a small hole in the rubble without major injuries.

Special search and rescue teams from New York City, Taiwan and El Salvador have arrived and are working to find survivors caught in the rubble, Engle said in one video.

Of the family and friends he has in Haiti, Engle said none were seriously hurt in the earthquake, though their homes are destroyed.

“They all sleep outside,” he says in one video of the displaced Haitians. “All these people don’t have a place to live.”

Engle also marvels at the cooperative spirit of the people, calling them tenacious and having great ingenuity because they have built impromptu tent cities to serve as shelter.

“They’re self-organizing,” he says.

Other videos show Engle riding around Haiti on the back of a motorcycle, the best mode of travel through the heavily congested streets and rubble, he said.

On Jan. 14, two days after the earthquake struck, Engle went to the U.S. Embassy to see what was going on there. He reported that there were “hundreds” of people waiting inside and outside the embassy and that emergency flights were being conducted to evacuate American citizens.

“It’s really filling up,” he says in the video, adding that there was mounting pressure and tension.

That night, he and his family slept outside their home as had been recommended they do for the 72 hours after the earthquake.

“You’re vulnerable,” he says of being inside so soon after an earthquake due to the possibility of aftershocks.

He reports in one video that the night of the earthquake, there were approximately 30 tremors.

“The house shook like crazy,” he says. “We could hear cries in the distance.”

By Day 4, Engle reported in his video that aid is starting to be delivered, noting he had been to the airport and much of it was in order.

“There’s a lot of aid coming in,” he says, adding, “We’re so grateful for the outpour of compassion.”

 WATCH:’s Co-founder John Engle’s latest video update from Haiti post earthquake.

Related Articles

Leave a Comment