The devastating earthquake that ripped through Haiti in January hit close to home for Deutsche Banks Essien Leroy, even though the trading technologist was safe in his Brooklyn home.
The native Haitian, 44, has lived in the U.S. since 1973 but still has family in the country and visits once a year. He flew to the Dominican Republic with his wife three days after the massive quake tore through Haitis most populated areas, killing well over 100,000 people. (No official tally has emerged, as many bodies remain buried, but estimates have been as high as 200,000.) From Santo Domingo, along with a Dominican media crew, the couple caught a military helicopter to Port-au-Prince. The devastation was overwhelming.
Circling above, we got the birds-eye view and saw immediately that the destruction was total, he tells II. You have slums on one side of the road and hotels and large homes on the other, and they all came down equally.
Because the citys filling stations were destroyed, Leroys sister, Reine, a former regional minister in charge of education infrastructure who is now a school principal, pooled gas from three of the extended familys vehicles to fuel the truck that escorted the group through the area. Nearly everyone, whether or not their homes were destroyed, was sleeping in their yards. They are too shaken to even walk into their homes, says Leroy, who brought water filters and medicine and intends to return later this month to help in the rebuilding effort.
Leroy was translating for the news crew during interviews with survivors when they heard voices under the rubble. He called the Dominican rescue workers to give them the location, Leroy says of the crews reporter. Although he didnt see how it turned out, that particular experienced marked me, he adds.
Leroys colleagues at the bank had already started raising money, and when the assistant vice president for global markets equity IT returned to New York, efforts mounted. By the end of last month, Deutsche Bank had raised a whopping $5.85 million globally, through direct donations from staff, matching funds from the bank and the net commissions of one days U.S. equity trading volume. It is partnering with AmeriCares, Doctors Without Borders, Oxfam America and Partners in Health to channel its emergency funds. In addition to supporting immediate disaster relief, Deutsche will deploy a portion of the money over the coming year through the Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation to help Haiti with longer-term needs such as rebuilding housing, aiding businesses and improving health care and sanitary services.