Haiti tragedy touches Vicksburg families

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Two weeks ago, Sage Jackson Robinson of Vicksburg didn’t know if her mother, former Vicksburg police officer Darlene Jackson, who had been living in Haiti since 2008, had died along with many others.

“I was sad and worried,” said Robinson, a biology student at Hinds in Raymond. “I didn’t know what to think, if she was OK or not.” After four days, Robinson received a call from her mother saying she was OK.

Since, Robinson has received calls and e-mails from her mother, but information is scant. She said her mother described the devastation from the Jan. 12 quake as “really, really bad.”

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“I know she’s in Port-au-Prince, but I don’t know where she’s staying,” Robinson said. “When we have a phone conversation, they’re very short.”

Jackson, a Vicksburg patrol officer from 1999 to 2006, was stationed in Haiti by her employer, Pacific Architects & Engineers, a Lockheed Martin Company.

Her main job had been training Haitian police officers, but now she is helping with the relief effort.

Jackson had been in the United States earlier this month, but returned to Haiti after visiting her home in Moore, Okla.

Vicksburg police investigator Troy Kimble, a friend and former colleague, said he has also spoken to Jackson. “She’s doing well.

She said it’s hectic down there and everything is in disarray.”

Another former Vicksburg resident who has made a home in Haiti is Linda Threadgill.

Threadgill has lived in Haiti for 23 years, operating Fishers of Men Ministries International with her husband, Jay. On the day of the quake, however, she was in the U.S., where she had returned to be with her son whose wife was having a baby.

Jay Threadgill and their 18-year-old daughter, Taina, were in their Haiti home when the quake struck; both survived.

Taina Threadgill flew via military cargo plane to Florida a few days later.

The Threadgills had built in the capital city of Port-au-Prince a ministry that included a church and a school. Both were destroyed.

“We lost our church,” she said. “We lost our spiritual son. We lost our godson’s parents. We lost 42 students. We lost our friends.”

Threadgill said her husband and his staff spent the week after the quake searching for survivors and waiting for supplies. She said her husband opened up their soccer field to more than 1,000 refugees, who have all set up tents for shelter.

“Our focus is on surviving,” said Threadgill, who is planning to return to Haiti in mid-February.

In Vicksburg, one group of volunteer medical specialists is still prepared to head to Haiti.

Led by Dr. Daniel Edney, a primary care physician at Medical Associates of Vicksburg, the group is still waiting flight clearance into the island’s airport.

The team of medial specialists and support staff include pharmacist Michael Jones of Helping Hand Family Pharmacy, nurse practitioner Dan Ellis, retired lab technician Hester Pitts, David Baldwin, Stephen Griffin, Hursie Davis-Sullivan, Karl Myers, Melinda Cassibry and Lana Wagner.

The team, sponsored by Mississippi Baptist Disaster Response in Jackson, is expected to stay in Haiti for two weeks.

IRS clears way for deductions

The Internal Revenue Service will allow deductions on 2009 returns for donations to charities providing earthquake relief in Haiti.

To be eligible, taxpayers must itemize deductions on their returns due by April 15.

The contributions must be made between Jan. 11 and March 1 and specifically for the victims of the quake. Cash donations by check, credit card or debit card may be claimed, as well as those made by text message.

Normally, charitable deductions made this year would not be deductible until the 2010 return, due by April 15, 2011. Visit www.irs.gov or www.usaid.gov for more.

Mississippi officials give $10,000 in aid

Mississippi lawmakers, Gov. Haley Barbour and state Capitol employees are donating about $10,000 of their own money for earthquake relief in Haiti.

The money will go to the relief fund run by former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

Democratic state Sen. Willie Simmons of Cleveland challenged elected officials and staff members to dig into their own pockets to help with the effort.

During a ceremony Tuesday in the House, Barbour said Mississippians are still thankful for donations after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Contact Manivanh Chanprasith at mchan@vicksburgpost.com