TODAY   |  January 14, 2010

American students remain missing in Haiti

Jan. 14: College students from Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., who were participating in a service program were believed to be in a building that collapsed during the earthquake. Parents Joan and Steve Prudhomme speak with TODAY’s Matt Lauer.

Share This:

This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

MATT LAUER, co-host: Twelve students and two faculty members from Lynn University , that's a small liberal arts college in Boca Raton , Florida , had just traveled to Port -au-Prince as part of a January term program . This morning, seven of the students are reported to be safe, including 21-year-old Julie Prudhomme . Her parents , Joan and Steve , are joining us now. Good morning to both of you.

Ms. JOAN PRUDHOMME (Parents of US Student Who Survived Quake): Good morning, Matt.

Mr. STEVE PRUDHOMME (Parents of US Student Who Survived Quake): Good morning, Matt. How are you?

LAUER: Joan -- I'm fine, thank you. As parents , the most important question is how did you find out Julie was safe?

Ms. PRUDHOMME: We read an e-mail last night after a phone call from the university stating one sentence, "I am OK." And we were overjoyed.

LAUER: Steve , there had to be some agonizing moments...

Ms. PRUDHOMME: Oh.

LAUER: ...because I understand that after you heard about the earthquake...

Mr. PRUDHOMME: Oh.

LAUER: ...then there was a period of time you heard nothing, and then there was a period where some of the other students that were there as part of the program were able to send some e-mails or text messages , but nothing from Julie .

Mr. PRUDHOMME: Correct.

Ms. PRUDHOMME: Apparently, one girl was able to send a text to someone in the United States , and Julie was with that girl. And so we did have initial confirmation around 7 PM , the first night of the earthquake, Tuesday night, that she was OK. But of course, you don't know what happens, the aftershocks and everything else. It was extremely anxiety producing, to say the least .

LAUER: Steve , tell -- Steve , tell me a little bit about why she was there. What was this program?

Mr. PRUDHOMME: Well, she's with Food for the Poor , and she was over there trying to make water irrigation systems to help better water the -- the water system over there.

LAUER: I mention there are 12 students and two faculty members . We have reports that seven of the students are OK.

Ms. PRUDHOMME: Mm-hmm.

LAUER: Any way you're finding out, whether through the school or through any of the hotlines, what the status is on those other students?

Ms. PRUDHOMME: Lynn University , I cannot overemphasize how wonderful they've been. They have kept us up to date from day one, called us every step of the way, had a rescue team in place immediately, sent someone over there. They've been posting updates on their Web site , which we've been checking, and they have been absolutely wonderful advising us every single minute of what's going on. And we don't have any further word as of 10:00 last night, but we expect to hear again this morning an update, and we hope for good news for the rest of the team.

LAUER: You've got this one line...

Mr. PRUDHOMME: The worst part...

LAUER: Go ahead, Steve. Sorry.

Mr. PRUDHOMME: The worst part is not having any communication with them.

Ms. PRUDHOMME: Right.

Mr. PRUDHOMME: So we don't know where she is, how she is, where she's going, what's her plan. If we could just, you know, talk to her , just -- that would be great.

LAUER: Well, in that one line, you know...

Mr. PRUDHOMME: But...

LAUER: ..."I'm_OK" -- I guess...

Ms. PRUDHOMME: "I'm_OK."

LAUER: ...was she -- is she the type of person who would've told you `I have an injury,' or would she not have wanted to worry you in that way?

Ms. PRUDHOMME: I think she would've told us. I think there was so many people there just trying to get one sentence out. That's all we care about. "I'm_OK" said it all. We didn't need the rest of it yet. We'll get that in good time and we hope very soon when she gets airlifted out of Haiti and into Dominican Republic .

LAUER: Yeah. And I know your thoughts and our thoughts as well are with the students that have not been heard from as well as, of course, as well as...

Ms. PRUDHOMME: Exactly.

Mr. PRUDHOMME: Correct.

Ms. PRUDHOMME: We understand the anguish.

LAUER: ...the people -- yeah, that's right.

Ms. PRUDHOMME: Mm-hmm.

Mr. PRUDHOMME: And...

LAUER: And...

Mr. PRUDHOMME: And we got the good -- we got the good news and we hope that the rest of the families get the good news that we have.

LAUER: Yeah. And while you're happy she's OK, I'm sure -- you should be very proud of the reason she was there in the first place , and I appreciate you talking to us this morning.