Music was still blaring from store fronts. Stray dogs were still lumbering around. Women were still getting their hair done. And Maguet Thimotus turned down the stereo playing outside of his namesake record store on NE Second Avenue to express his frustration at not reaching his loved one.
"All of my family is back in Haiti," the 56-year-old said, holding a hand-written list with five phone numbers."I've been calling since it happened."
The 7.0 earthquake that devastated Haiti Tuesday has crippled communication lines, leaving many here wondering about the well-being of their relatives.
"I cannot say anything," Thimotus said. "I cannot explain what you see on TV. So many people have passed away. The government isn't working. There's a lot of heartbreak."
Photo by Matt Marek/American Red Cross
The everyday mood in that stretch of NE Second Avenue in front of Thimotus' store was only betrayed by the TVs turned to the news and the camera crews outside Notre Dame d'Haiti Catholic Church.
Inside Leandre's Unisex Beauty Salon, women sat under blow driers fixated on CNN.
Michele Previus, who hadn't spoken with her husband and 5- and 8-year-old daughters in 15 days, still hasn't been able to reach them in Gonaives, where they live. The 20-year-old has lived here for a year, working to support them. Just a month ago, she made plane reservations to visit Haiti, but the January 20 trip is now in jeopardy because of the tragedy. She said she still wants to go and isn't scared.
"I'm not feeling too lucky to be here because my family's over there," she said. "I wish I was there with them."
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Further down the street on NE 58th Street, Kenol Mercius, the owner of Brave Guede Botanica, didn't know if he should open his doors today.
But he figured he'd be more useful to his parents and sister who live in Northern Haiti if his business stayed open.
"I wish I was there and I don't because if I'm there I can't send them money," he said, while Haitian radio played in the background. "I can't help them there."