Search team reaches hotel where Washougal man was staying
Monday, January 18, 2010
Washougal, WA The refrigerator inside the Washougal home Jeanne Ratterman shares with Walt, her husband of 38 years, is full.
Messages like this one, from Laurie Guevara-Stone, “Stay strong, we are all thinking of you and anxiously awaiting your arrival back home!,” fill a Facebook page set up to keep friends, family and neighbors updated on the search for Walt Ratterman, who’s been missing since the Tuesday earthquake that ravaged Haiti.
“I can handle visits and emails because it’s really giving me strength,” Jeanne, 57, said Monday morning. “We’ve been inundated with food. Our refrigerator’s packed. I know Walt was beloved by so many people.”
A team of 10 men, including four doctors and a Marine reservist, reached the Hotel Montana in Port-Au-Prince this morning. That’s where Walt was staying during a trip to check on a solar power project. He is co-founder of Sun Energy Power International, a Washougal-based nonprofit agency that provides help with renewable energy systems in remote, rural parts of the world.
The team arrived on a bus from the Dominican Republic about 8 a.m. local time with one mission: to bring Walt home.
“We are still positive. We are still hopeful,” Jeanne said.
The four doctors were assigned to work with already established medical teams.
Walt was last seen with Herbert Kanzki of Green Energy Solutions at the hotel.
Walt sent an e-mail, probably from the hotel courtyard, about eight minutes before the earthquake struck.
“It’s feeling like they may have been on the stairs when the earthquake hit,” Jeanne said.
Walt was staying in a second-floor room and holding meetings in a third-floor conference room.
Walt and Kanzki saw two of Kanzki’s relatives shortly before the earthquake struck.
One of the two women was outside when the building crumbled. The other was rescued from the rubble. They saw the two men heading up the stairs.
“The focus is still Walt’s rescue,” Jeanne Ratterman said. “Anybody who has information, we’re listening.”
Jeanne said people can keep up with the effort to find Walt here.