Marie Ephese Jean stayed home from work yesterday.

A native of Haiti, the Orleans resident waited for word from friends and family, yet she was terrified of what she might hear.

“I stayed home because I cannot get in touch with my family,” she said. “I don’t know what has happened.”

Upon hearing of the earthquake Tuesday, Jean was devastated.

“The biggest church near the presidential palace fell, and I cried,” she said. “In some places, there is nothing left.”

Born in Port-au-Prince, Jean left Haiti for Canada in 2005.

She’s heard that her extended family in Delmas is OK, but cannot speak to them. Her friends also survived, she said.

She heard that a house that she used to live in was completely destroyed.

“It’s so sad, such a shock,” said Orleans resident Tatiana Fleurima, who also has family and friends in Haiti.

“We haven’t really had any communication,” she said. “We can’t get through. It’s chaos.”

Ottawa has a strong Haitian community, said Fleurima, one that will get behind this cause.

Orleans resident Melissa Balthazar is also helping. A teacher at L’Odyssée elementary school, Balthazar and her cousin, Tatiana Amisial, will be placing Red Cross collection cans at Gabriel Pizza locations throughout Orleans as well as other businesses.

“I am doing this because I am Canadian and of Haitian descent,” she said. “I have family in Haiti and don’t know if they are in the rubble because I can’t establish contact.

“Haiti is a country that has suffered so much,” she said. “It’s so unfortunate that yet again, they have to endure such pain.”