A Lauderdale County resident was in Haiti when an earthquake of magnitude 7 devastated the island Tuesday night, killing many thousands and leveling the the capital city of Port-au-Prince.
71-year-old William Hatcher left on a mission trip Monday. He hasn't been been heard from since the earthquake happened.
"He had a heart for people who want to help themselves. That was the thing. He wanted to help those people," said his son, Greg Hatcher, Wednesday in Meridian.
The younger Hatcher, and William's, wife, Faye, last spoke with the elder Hatcher early Tuesday morning. He told them he was enjoying his time and eager to continue on his journey.
But within hours the country would need more help than ever and William Hatcher would be part of this huge relief effort. His loved ones say they are hoping for the best, as he was in Port-au-Prince.
"Just because we don' t know and can't contact them, we don't know what's going on," Faye Hatcher said. "But I'm holding on to my faith that they are O.K. and they just can't contact us."
The Hatchers say the steady stream of information on news channels can be a bit much when they are worried about their loved one. So for now, they are keeping the television off and their hopes alive.
Hatcher was in the country working to teach Haitians how to improve their living conditions through water treatment, irrigation, and farming techniques.
Hatcher is retired from Peavey Electronics. He also worked previously at WTOK and established the Jump Start program at MCC.
The family has contacted the U.S. State Department with the names of those in the mission party, and was told that some Americans are being treated at a hospital and clinic there. U.S. officials also say there are many places in the capital city that were not damaged.
Officials say this quake is the strongest in Haiti since 1773, and there have been at least 33 aftershocks in a 24-hour period.