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LI girl, stuck in Haiti after quake, returns home

Brianna Dacius, 2, returned home to her parents

Brianna Dacius, 2, returned home to her parents in Elmont about two months after a magnitude 7.0 earthquake stranded her in Haiti. (March 13, 2010) Credit: Howard Schnapp

She's finally back home.

Two-year-old Brianna Dacius has been reunited with her Elmont parents after the child was stuck in Haiti for weeks after a magnitude 7.0 earthquake in January.

Brianna, who had been living with her grandmother in Port-au-Prince since July, had an emotional reunion Friday night with her parents at Kennedy Airport.

Saturday morning, Brianna and her parents appeared in Elmont with state Sen. Craig Johnson (D-Port Washington), who was among those assisting the Dacius family in arranging Brianna's return and who personally paid $504 for her airfare back to New York.

"I am relieved my daughter is back in my arms and that this very long, trying and frustrating time for our family is over," her mother, Fabiola Pierre-Paul, said in a statement.

Pierre-Paul took Brianna to Port-au-Prince last summer to visit her paternal grandmother, then flew home, leaving Brianna there. There had been no firm date set for the child's return to Long Island, her mother said Saturday.

Then came Jan. 12, when a massive earthquake jolted the island and demolished much of Port-au-Prince, including the grandmother's house - putting her and little Brianna out on the streets of the city.

With no commercial flights allowed in or out of Port-au-Prince for more than a month, the Dacius family faced yet another hurdle. Brianna, who is an American citizen, was without her passport, which was with her parents on Long Island.

That's when Johnson's office got a call about the girl from Mimi Pierre-Johnson, president of the Elmont-based Argo Civic Association.

Johnson worked with Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to try to persuade the State Department to fly Brianna home on a military aircraft.

But on Feb. 19, commercial flights were restored in Haiti and the State Department told Brianna's parents that the possibility of a military flight was off the table.

Upon receiving the news, Johnson decided to cover the cost of Brianna's plane ride home with his own funds.

"I am proud to have helped get her home," he said. "It was simply the right thing to do."

Now, the family is working to get the child's grandmother to Long Island. Lecianne Lermitche is still living on the streets of Port-au-Prince, they said.


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