SALIDA -- Lisa Birch has not left her home in a week. She's waiting for the phone call from her husband.
Jim Birch, 50, has been missing since Jan. 12, when the Port-au-Prince hotel he was staying at collapsed in the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated Haiti.
"I made a decision not to leave home until I hear from my husband," Lisa Birch said Monday. "I'm afraid if I leave, he'll call."
Jim Birch, who has a degree in landscape architecture, was in Haiti's capital on a business trip. He works as an independent contractor for New York-based LandTek, which was talking with the government about building schools and sports complexes, said LandTek President Michael Ryan.
Jim Birch started doing that in April because the recession dried up work for his business renovating and building golf courses. But he wasn't supposed to make the trip to Haiti and had to fill in at the last moment when his boss couldn't go.
Birch and his three colleagues were staying at the 145-room Hotel Montana. He had flown in from New York about three hours before the earthquake struck.
He called his wife after landing and clearing customs and said he'd call back in a couple of hours.
He never did.
"I told him, 'Love you, babe. Talk to you soon,' " Lisa Birch said, recounting her last conversation with her husband of 12 years and the father of their 9-year-old daughter, Megan.
One of the men, John Scarboro of Georgia, escaped from the rubble. He had been in his fifth-floor hotel room when the quake struck. But Birch, LandTek employee Joe Guercia, 71, and Scarboro's son-in-law Dave Apperson, 46, still are missing.
Scarboro is the chief executive officer and Apperson is the president of Adel Steel in Georgia.
Lisa Birch waits for her husband's safe return. It's too soon to give up. The Associated Press reported Sunday that a woman had been rescued from the Hotel Montana wreckage.
But sometimes, Birch said, she can't believe her husband is missing. It feels like a bad dream.
"I'm happy, sad, angry," she said. "I yell at him: 'Where are you? Why can't they find you?' "
She gets fresh hope from any news about her husband. She said Scarboro called and told her about a business meeting held in a first-floor meeting room before the earthquake. The room had food and water. It's possible her husband was there when the temblor struck.
Lisa Birch also thinks about the others. Not just the other men on the business trip with her husband and their families, but the Haitians and others devastated by the earthquake.
An estimated 200,000 Haitians are dead and more than a million are homeless. The nameless dead are being buried in mass graves.
"I'm telling everyone to pray and to donate for everybody. They need it," she said, adding that the Red Cross and UNICEF have been the most effective in addressing the immediate needs in Haiti.
The U.S. State Department reported Sunday that as many as 16 U.S. citizens had been killed. It also said it had received 6,000 reports from people concerned about loved ones in Haiti and had resolved 1,000 of those reports.
Lisa Birch said she is grateful for the support she's received. She is co-president of the parents club at Dena Boer Elementary School, where her daughter is a fourth-grader, and volunteers in the classroom and library.
The school has rallied around her. Third-grade teacher Lenora Gerber led the effort to make yellow ribbons, which were placed Monday along the Broadway median in downtown Salida. Ribbons also were placed on the Birch family home and on Jim Birch's Ford F-150 pickup parked in the driveway.
Gerber said she planned to hand out ribbons today to Dena Boer teachers.
The house was filled Monday with family and friends.
"She's a rock," friend Kimberly Kiernan said.
Lisa Birch said LandTek is helping in the search for her husband and has told the family not to worry about money.
"We told her we'd help out any way we had to," said Ryan, LandTek's president, adding that Jim Birch has worked for the company in the past.
Help also has come from Sen. Dianne Feinstein's office. When Lisa Birch couldn't get through to the State Department on the phone to report that her husband was in Haiti, she called Feinstein's Washington office.
Two staff members there took the information and passed it on to the State Department. One of them gave Lisa Birch his cell phone number and has called regularly to see how she's doing.
"I'm so grateful," Lisa Birch said. "There is no way I can thank everyone."
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2316.