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The phones at Radio Concorde, a station in Dorchester that broadcasts to the local Haitian community, were ringing nonstop Wednesday afternoon.
Jeff Ronald Brice, a host at Radio Concorde, was busy taking calls.
"People are looking for information," he said. "We have about 60,000 Haitian people living in Boston, so people are calling to know what type of information we have."
"Every one of us has someone in Haiti," Brice said. "In my case, my whole family is in Haiti. People are calling to know what the relief effort is. It is new to us. We believe the death toll will be very, very high. So some people that have family in Haiti are trying to know — to have any type of information."
With traditional lines of communication down in the Caribbean island nation, many local Haitians were turning to the station for word from home.
Bernadette Cantave has been frantically trying to contact her family members in Haiti — with no luck. A financial analyst for Boston Catholic Charities, Cantave moved to the region from Haiti in 1984. She has four aunts and several cousins in Port-au-Prince, the nation's capital and the epicenter of the earthquake.
From her intimate knowledge of the capital city, she is expecting the worst. Port-au-Prince is "very, very crowded," with "a lot of concrete, brick houses," she said. "I can picture that it's not going to be pretty at all, because I was there two years ago to visit my cousin. The house was not in very good condition to sustain an earthquake."
One of Cantave's cousins works across the street from the National Palace, which crumpled in the grip of the strong quake. She wanted to believe the cousin and his colleagues had already left work for the evening when the quake hit, but she had no way of knowing.
"When we heard (the palace collapsed), we knew it's not good for people working next door at the other public offices in that square," Cantave said. "I think they may have been on the way home or picking up children from school, but I really don't know what to say. There is no news."
Since the conversation, however, a cousin contacted Cantave via Facebook to let her know that she and her three children were OK, but that their house was demolished. As of Thursday morning, Cantave had received no word on other relatives.
Click "Listen Now" above to hear the interviews with Jeff Ronald Brice and Bernadette Cantave.
This program aired on January 14, 2010.
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