(CNN)Ten years ago today a massive earthquake struck Haiti, transforming capital city Port-au-Prince into a nightmare in seconds. Some 70,000 people would be buried within a week's time. Hundreds of thousands more would follow them to the grave.
Ten years after a devastating earthquake, some Haitians say they're losing hope
The devastating force of the 7.0 quake on January 12, 2010, split the country's history into a before, and an after. Before had been a long, tangled history of dictatorship, occupation and resistance, shot through with the pride of a slave revolution that defeated Napoleon Bonaparte's army. After was unimaginable -- a blank slate.
"I think they just dropped a bomb on Port-au-Prince," is what Francoise Chandler, a local UNICEF communications officer, told her daughter after the first tremor struck. She had just picked her up from school.
"Everything was shaking, and there was a lot of noise. I thought it was like September 11 in New York, because I had been in New York in that period," Chandler says. Thick dust rose in the air around their car.
"Are we going die?" she remembers her daughter asking. Chandler replied, "I don't have the answer to that, but if we're going to die, we'll die together."
Her daughter stopped asking questions then, she says.
According to the US Geological Survey, the earthquake itself lasted less than 30 seconds. The immediate aftermath was horrifying. But an outpouring of solidarity within the country, and between Haiti and the rest of the world, gave many Haitians hope.
"The world really did come together around Haiti," says CNN's Sanjay Gutpa, who covered the aftermath extensively and even treated injuries while on the ground. "Not every part of the world, but I think if you were to turn on your televisions, if you were to read the newspaper, if you were to talk to your friends, colleagues at work, there was this collective outpouring of support and compassion for Haiti."
The world sent firemen from New York City, rescue workers from Iceland, hospital tents from Israel, sniffer dogs from China, oil from Venezuela. NGOs that were already in the country leaped into action. Chandler recalls working out of an open-air tent in the days after the quake because the organization's offices had crumbled.
International donors pledged millions, which eventually tallied up to more than $10 billion for reconstruction. The earthquake had been particularly lethal due to the fragile construction of Haiti's buildings, which crashed down upon their inhabitants.
"Right after the earthquake I felt a lot of hope, because I thought emerging from the catastrophe would make everyone a better person in the service of this country," says Harold Prévil, an obstetrician and head of Sacre Coeur hospital in Haiti's northern city of Milot.
But a decade later, he and many others tell CNN they are now disillusioned and have far less hope for their country than they did in the gory aftermath of the earthquake.