Queens Chocolate Company Worried About Co-Workers in Haiti

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    The slums of Canape Vert are devastated following the quake.

    Elise Jean keeps watching television but can't find the faces she's looking for.

    Jean has been trying to reach her father, brother and his four children since the devastating earthquake hit her home nation. "I feel terrible in my heart," she said Friday. "I can't sleep when I hear what's going on in my country."

    Jean has been waiting for word with dozens of her co-workers — Haitian immigrants working at a chocolate factory in Queens — on the fate of hundreds of loved ones missing since the quake on Tuesday.

    Jean, 54, helps make chocolate roses and gold-foil wrapped coins for Madelaine Chocolate Novelties Inc.

    The company, established in 1949, produces about 20 million pounds of candy each year at the 200,000-square-foot factory on the Rockaway Penninsula in Queens, less than a block from the elevated subway tracks. About a quarter of the company's 450 workers are from Haiti, according to company officials.

    Pierre Jackson, the factory's shop steward, said some employees have learned that they lost loved ones in the quake.

    "One lost a son, another lost a sister, another lost four of them," Jackson said. "A cousin, uncle, sisters."

    About 80 employees met Friday with U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, tearfully passing on relatives' telephone numbers and information about the missing. A black collection box for cash donations sat underneath the time clock.

    Albert Jean (no relation to Elise Jean) said he had called again and again the number of his 35-year-old daughter in Port-Au-Prince.

    "I call, call, call. No answer," he said. "I don't know if my house break or if it's standing."

    Most of the employees say they send much of their U.S. earnings back home. Anouse Lambert, 60, says she supports as many as 10 relatives in the poor island nation.

    She was waiting for word from her sister, a nun.

    "But the building where the nuns lived collapsed," she said.