York Track Star Returns Home Safely After Haiti Earthquake
During the winter recess, York College student-athlete Joviette Frederick, a member of the track and field and softball team, decided to visit relatives in Haiti. Little did she know, she would end up in the middle of a deadly earthquake.
Frederick, who was born in New York but has family in Haiti, was there with her father, brother and sister to visit some relatives and work on a house they were building. On January 12, while on the porch of the house in the nearby town of Aux Cayes, the earthquake struck. Her family all began to experience a major headache (which happens frequently before earthquakes) and realized something was wrong. They jumped from the porch onto to the grass only to see the sight of bricks falling from the house they had come to build.
Meanwhile, her mother was home in New York, frantically waiting to hear from her family. “The earthquake happened around 4:30 and I wasn’t able to get in touch with my mother until around 11:00 pm.,” said Frederick. “The news showed one of the houses that fell. The house was six houses down from us and my mother recognized it. That made her a nervous wreck.”
Frederick and her family were unable to get a flight home until January 21st, spending nine days in the aftermath of the earthquake. “It was a scary situation,” said Frederick. “We were stressed and had trouble sleeping because we were worried about the aftershocks.”
The house they were staying in was not damaged but her family decided to stay in a hotel because they worried about thieves and looters. While they were in the hotel, they experienced an aftershock and decided it wasn’t safe to stay in the hotel either. They decided to sleep in the car where there was open space so they would be safe from falling debris. Seven of them squeezed into a small car with no air conditioning and tried to sleep through the night.
On the day they finally left, they arrived at Port-au-Prince Airport at 8 a.m. and had to stand in a rescue line until 5 p.m. They took off from a military plane with no chairs. Only U.S. citizens were allowed to board and they squeezed as many passengers as they could on the plane. All the passengers sat on the titanium floor for an uncomfortable flight to Orlando. From Orlando, they were able to get a regular flight back home to JFK Airport. “When we landed at JFK, I was so happy, added Frederick.”
Since returning home, Frederick has helped lead the Women’s Indoor Track and Field team to its first City University of New York Athletic Conference championship. She will also look to contribute to a successful season in softball as well.
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