Archived Story

Silvernale safe, left early

Published 10:18am Thursday, January 14, 2010

By JOHN EBY
Dowagiac Daily News

Beryle Silvernale of Dowagiac not only escaped the earthquake by hours by leaving three days early, but she happened to take photographs of the palace as it looked at 4:20 p.m. on Sunday while she was with United Nations personnel visiting the Port-au-Prince police department.

“God was with us,” she said this morning. “We felt the hand of God.”

The guest house where she stayed was flattened and they would have been eating dinner when the quake struck.

She wasn’t scheduled to leave until today, but there had been lots of rain in the mountains.

Silvernale was with a Grand Rapids group, Rays of Hope for Haiti, and the Hug a Child program in orphanages, with which she took 123 children to the beach in two busloads. The group supports 50 slum families.

Silvernale said she was in her daughter-in-law’s kitchen in Grand Rapids when Katie received a frantic call from Celeste, John Ross’s wife.

“Did you see what’s happening?” Celeste said, not knowing Beryle was already home.
“We put on the TV and haven’t left it,” she said. “My heart is broken, heavy and numb. We felt the hand of God.”

Silvernale, who may get deployed in a few weeks by Red Cross, said Sarah Ross, who started a Montessori school on the north coast of the Dominican Republic, is scheduled to return Saturday to her home of eight years.

“The D.R. definitely felt shocks, but they’re fine,” despite well-publicized tsunami warnings, she said.

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