But the living now inhabit an apocalyptic maze more nightmarish than Hollywood could imagine. Life among the ruins is the new normal. But like the miracle survivors, Haiti is crawling from the wreckage, reports CBS News Correspondent Bill Whitaker.
This. One month ago Friday, the ground swayed and buildings crumbled. According to the latest estimate, 212,000 people died in the earthquake. Three hundred thousand more were hurt. As many as 4,000 required amputation of a limb, but there were also miracles. Two hundred eleven people were pulled alive from the rubble after the quake.
The helping hands of volunteers from around the world lifted the earthquake-ravaged country. Global contributions - more than $2.5 billion so far - help save, heal and feed.
People still wait in long lines for water and food. One line was a quarter-mile long. But the bureaucratic logjam that kept aid bottled up at the airport has broken.
Tons of food have come into the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. Five hundred thousand residents have fled the crumbled capital for the relative safety of the countryside, hopping buses, trucks, anything with wheels. One hundred twenty-two miles west, Les Cayes - a sleepy port of 45,000 a month ago - now is a teaming city.
It takes 5.5 hours to drive to Les Cayes from Port-au-Prince. Packed buses arrive every 15 minutes from about 10 in the morning to 7 at night.
In Les Cayes, eight people stopped on one corner said they were from the capital.
"A lot of people, a lot, a lot," Alex Dorvil told Whitaker when asked how many people were from Port-au-Prince.
They're bringing a lot of earthquake injuries.
"I'm afraid we're going to keep getting people over the next couple of weeks," Dr. William Tenhaaf said.
In the small Les Cayes Hospital Tenhaaf runs, a volunteer from Grand Rapids, Mich., said 60 of the 80 patients are from Port-au-Prince. He needs 40 more beds. All care, including surgery, is free.
"I can't charge them anything because they don't have any money," Tenhaaf said.
So he's paying from his own pocket - $120,000 and counting.
Back in Port-au-Prince, tent cities are the new city centers: 502,000 people jammed into 322 camps, some neat, most squalid. Some have schools. Need a haircut? $3. Fifty-thousand people called one camp home two weeks ago. Now it's 70,000 and growing.
Also growing: a public health crisis. Doctors are racing to vaccinate 500,000 children for measles, tetanus and whooping cough.
"It is overwhelming," said Dr. Raul Ruiz, a volunteer from California. "You have the concern for measles. You have the concern for diarrhea."
Children who survived the quake are now in danger of dying from diarrhea from unclean water.
Haitians hired by international relief agencies - 20,000 by the U.S. Agency for International Development alone - have begun the massive clean-up effort. Others are rebuilding with whatever materials are at hand.
In the hills above the city, U.S. seismologist Walter Mooney can't find the fault that triggered the disaster.
"We can't find the smoking gun," Mooney said.
He does know one thing for sure.
"It could have another magnitude-7 earthquake at any time in the future," Mooney said. "It could be next year, it could be next week and it could be in the next decade."
"Port-au-Prince is at risk?" Whitaker asked.
"Port-au-Prince is at risk," Mooney said.
But that's a worry for the future. The present is all they can bear.