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‘Be Like Brit’ Watches Hurricane Matthew Hit Haiti

As Hurricane Matthew slammed into Haiti early Tuesday morning, watching closely back in the Bay State were Len and Cherylann Gengel.

Talking by satellite phone in Worcester to the director of their orphanage in Haiti, the Gengels are checking in every hour on the 66 children, staff members and their families riding out the storm there.

"Last night, we rescued 51 people whose houses just blew apart," Len Gengel said.

Devastation at the hand of a natural disaster is nothing new for this impoverished Caribbean island nation. In fact, it was back in 2010 that the couple's 19-year-old daughter, Britney Gengel, was killed in a catastrophic earthquake while on a missionary trip there.

"When this was happening with Britney, we were on the other side and wondering what was happening, what was the building like, so it's resonating a lot of feelings for us now," Cherylann Gengel said.

Realizing Britney's dream to help the people of Haiti, the Gengels built the Be Like Brit orphanage to withstand natural disasters.

"Having lost our daughter, it was of the utmost importance that Cherylann and I design and build the building that has the same seismic standards as San Francisco," Len Gengel said.

While Hurricane Matthew will certainly be a test for their building that they're monitoring through Facebook videos, the Gengels know there are families riding out the storm in shelters made of sticks and tarps.

"My heart goes out to the people outside the walls who are fighting for their lives right now," Len Gengel said.

"It's really hard to imagine when the storm passes what we're actually going to see," Cherylann Gengel added.

Cherylann Gengel was actually in Haiti this week with 14 volunteers and had to return home early on Sunday. Len Gengel was scheduled to fly to Haiti Thursday.

While that has been postponed, the Gengels say they will get back to Haiti to help recover from this natural disaster as soon as they can.

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