Disasters come knocking these days like other news-via text message. And so my phone vibrated at six in the evening on Jan. 12, a simple message from news editor Jamie Dean: "7.0 earthquake in Haiti."
Anyone who's been there, as Jamie had, needed to know nothing more to understand that a quake of that magnitude on that island would be catastrophic. And thus began a long night of our cross-checking sources in Haiti, finding out whether they were alive and what they saw, just as most Haitians around the world were learning via texts and Twitter photos through the night of the magnitude of the disaster and of loved ones missing or dead.
Haiti's U.S. ambassador in Washington at the time, Raymond Joseph, would later tell us of frantic calls from his own cell phone-to the foreign minister, his deputy, the president-and finally reaching the president's deputy, who answered as he walked the streets of Port-au-Prince after abandoning his car, alone. No one could find Haiti's president, and Joseph was to become the acting face of the government for those early hours.
And so disasters would dog 2010, whether they engulfed whole countries or whole towns-Chile, Indonesia, New Zealand, the villages of the Indus River basin, and Montcoal, W.Va. Nearly 260,000 people died in such events compared with 15,000 in 2009-the highest number of disaster-related deaths since 1976.
And there were the disasters of man's making-that sent oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico three months of the year, that yielded a November catastrophe for Democrats, and left a continuing scroll of war dead in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Many experienced what the prophet Joel powerfully describes: "Fire devours before them, and behind them a flame burns." But Joel also writes of a God who "relents over disaster." Between the vestibule and the altar, a mere stroll, Joel tells the priests of Zion to weep, and say, "Spare your people, O Lord, and make not your heritage a reproach." We end the year with that cry. We look for seedlings of restoration to flourish in the scorched earth that is life in a fallen world. And we await deliverance.
- January 2010: The earth roared
- February 2010: Chile's turn
- March 2010: Pro-life Democrats on the line
- April 2010: Running red
- May 2010: New day in U.K.
- June 2010: Primary upsets
- July 2010: World Cup
- August 2010: Leaving Iraq
- September 2010: We pledge
- October 2010: Chilean rescue
- November 2010: Change the GOP can believe in
- December 2010: Wiki wars