On January 12, 2010, the roof, upper walls and turrets facing west were brought down in a 7.3 seismic activity on the Richter scale. Soon after and over a period of months, the mounds of rubble attracted scavengers who pried metal not only from fallen debris but also from standing elements including doors and entire portions of concrete structures that had withstood the tremor. Saddest of all, was the destruction of remaining stained glass windows by those intent on recovering the zinc from their frames.
Recognizing the important cultural and national character of the site, in May 2011, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) responded to an appeal from the Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince, and removed the debris. The request was seconded by ISPAN (Institut pour la Sauvegarde du Patrimoine National), the Haitian government agency mandated to monitor activities impacting structures of historical and cultural significance. Uncertainty as to how the ruins might be incorporated or removed in a reconstructed Cathedral influenced the decision to retain for the moment unstable remnants of walls and arches.
A new structure on the same site would have to meet the most rigorous anti-seismic and anti-cyclonic norms. It must aim as well to be a “green building” and achieve the highest standards possible of positive environmental performance. A new cathedral, to be built within ten years, will once again be a monument to life and a better future. It must honor as well the memory of the thousands who perished in Haiti on the day of its destruction.
To that end the Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince is sponsoring an international design competition from which to choose a concept suitable for a new cathedral. Financial support is also expected to come from throughout the world.
Presently, access to the ruins is greatly limited. In mid December 2011, a Brazilian military engineering unit attached to the U.N. peacekeeping forces in Haiti, removed three bells wedged in the north tower since the quake. The surrounding grounds are to be secured and all is set for reconstruction to commence soon.