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Haiti Businessman On Difficulty Of Getting Fuel

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Two days after the earthquake, we talked with businessman Pierre Brisson. He runs a handicraft export company in Port-au-Prince and lives in the affluent suburb of Petionville. When we reached him again today by Skype, he said he's seen only scattered distribution of water, no food, and finding fuel has been a big problem.

Mr. PIERRE BRISSON (Businessman): Some stations are delivering fuel but by gallon, or you have long, long waits. I started in my line yesterday around 5:30 and I was out around 1:00 with some gas to be able to put in the car, and mostly some diesel for the generator.

BLOCK: You mean you got in line at the gas station at 5:00 in the morning?

Mr. BRISSON: Yeah.

BLOCK: And you left at 1:00 in the afternoon?

Mr. BRISSON: That's right.

BLOCK: Eight hours later.

Mr. BRISSON: Yes. And I was among the lucky few because by chance, I found out that station was giving gas. The station where I was, they rationed a little bit. The lucky ones got five gallons. I did get three. But most people have come with their jug, one-gallon jug, to get their little something.

BLOCK: Mr. Brisson, you run a company, the handicraft export company that we mentioned.

Mr. BRISSON: Yeah.

BLOCK: Do you have a sense of - if you had a physical plant, if it survived and any workers, how they're doing?

Mr. BRISSON: Yes, we - my partners and I - we went over there. We looked at the building. It's okay as well as the inside. Fortunately for us, because the building next door collapsed on some people, we were fortunate to have left and closed shop a little bit before the earthquake. So the workers were just on their way home. We have accounted most of them that are okay or alive. Many of them lost all they have. They are in camps, in the tents.

We hope to be able to plan for whatever relief we can come up with. But, of course, the banks are not open. There is no access to money. And the immediate thing is to find food and water for the workers.

You know, one of the great things - big, not great. One of the worst thing, I think, that now, after a week, to contemplate the inability for everyone to plan. It's hard not to be able to plan for next day or the week after. It's just complete void and that's difficult. That's very, very difficult.

You were asking me about the plant, about the workers. Imagine when I went to that town-town yesterday and I saw the (unintelligible) that I went through where there's not one house, one building standing; not one commerce, not one shop standing. And I was thinking of all the people working in that street alone without a job, without any hope for an income whenever. You know, planning is impossible now and that's hard.

BLOCK: And going along with that, I suppose it must be impossible to imagine what Haiti will become, what the future of your country is.

Mr. BRISSON: Huh, I don't know. I really - we don't know. Now, there's in the history, in the north, we had a king - Christopher - at one time. And his motto was: We will rise from the ashes. And we will rise from the ashes. How? I don't know, but we will. We are a people that have been suffering ever since we were born. We made by and we are going to fight. Many will die in between but a country does not die.

BLOCK: Mr. Brisson, it's good to talk to you again. And we'll keep checking in with you.

Mr. BRISSON: Thank you, Melissa. It's nice to talk to you also. You take care.

BLOCK: Thank you. Bye-bye.

Mr. BRISSON: Bye-bye.

BLOCK: That's businessman Pierre Brisson who lives in Petionville, a suburb of Port-au-Prince. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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