Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Haiti: News and How to Help

There's a short list of aid organizations at the end of this post, with links.
From the looks of it, the ground floor of the Haitian presidential palace is still in one piece, mostly, but the top floor(s) have fallen into it. The place is a mess.

Rather more to the point, most the rest of Port-au-Prince has collapsed or been damaged.

Fatalities? Yes, obviously. But in my opinion it's going to take a while for any sort of body count to be made. Right now, Haitians are - quite properly - scrambling to dig out survivors and care for the wounded.

"Haitian envoy: Quake levels most of capital"
CNN (January 13, 2010)

"The powerful Haitian earthquake has destroyed most of the capital city of Port-au-Prince, Haitian authorities said Wednesday.

"A top envoy called it a 'major catastrophe.'

"Haiti's first lady, Elisabeth Debrosse Delatour, reported that "most of Port-au-Prince is destroyed" and that many government buildings had collapsed, Haiti's ambassador to the United States, Raymond Joseph, told CNN Wednesday morning. Delatour said President Rene Preval was all right, Joseph reported...."

"Experts warned of Haiti earthquake risk"
CNN (January 13, 2010)

"Scientists have warned for years that the island of Hispaniola, which Haiti shares with the Dominican Republic, was at risk for a major earthquake.

"Five scientists presented a paper during the 18th Caribbean Geological Conference in March 2008 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, stating that a fault zone on the south side of the island posed 'a major seismic hazard.'

"Tuesday's potentially disastrous 7.0 earthquake occurred in Haiti along the same fault line, known as the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault zone...."

"...The epicenter of Tuesday's quake was 10 miles southwest of Port-au-Price, the Haitian capital. Its proximity to the country's population center had scientists concerned Tuesday night...."

The problem with this sort of fault, one scientist said, is that they can be quiet for hundreds of years: and then snap. Turns out, the Enriquillo-Plaintain Garden fault is like to the San Andreas fault of California> They're both strike-slip faults, where the two sides move horizontally past each other.

"Haiti earthquake: devastation emerges"
BBC (January 13, 2010)

"The extent of the devastation from a huge quake in Haiti is slowly emerging, with a number of UN peacekeepers among thousands of people feared dead.

"UN chief Ban Ki-moon said the head of the UN mission in Haiti and his deputy were among more than 100 staff missing.

"The 7.0-magnitude quake, Haiti's worst in two centuries, struck south of the capital, Port-au-Prince, on Tuesday.

"The Red Cross says up to 3m people have been affected. Port-au-Prince's Roman Catholic archbishop is reported killed. ..."

The article includes a 1:33 video. Toward the end of the video, someone off-camera exclaimed, "the world is coming to an end!" or maybe "the world is going to an end!" I can see how someone on-site might get that impression. Haiti's capital is in bad shape. So, I would think, are other parts of the country.

The BBC reporter noted that people in Haiti will need water, food and shelter.

That 'end of the world' comment was, I think, quite understandable. What impressed me, though, in the video was how many Haitians who had come out relatively unscathed were either helping the wounded - or staying out of the way of those who were helping.

"Haiti earthquake: Haitians race to save survivors, leader warns 'hospitals cannot handle' victims"
New York Daily News (January 13, 2010)

"Bodies lined the streets of Port-au-Prince Wednesday as Haitians frantically searched for survivors in the rubble of their devastated capital city - rocked by the worst earthquake in the country in 200 years.

"Thousands of buildings, from the National Palace and UN peacekeeping headquarters to humble stick-and-mud shanties, were destroyed by the 7.0-magnitude quake, which struck Haiti late Tuesday afternoon with virtually no warning...."

An article I read online yesterday gave the time of the quake as about 5:00 p.m. - without specifying which in which time zone. The New York Daily News' "late Tuesday afternoon" suggests that it was around 5:00 p.m. Haiti time. It may be that 'everybody knows' that when news reports mention the time, it's local time for the place where the story is happening - but that's another topic.

"Red Cross: 3M likely affected by quake"
CNN International (January 13, 2010)

"A spokesman for the International Federation of the Red Cross warned Wednesday that up to 3 million people may have been affected by Tuesday's earthquake in Haiti as aid organizations and governments deployed response teams and pledged resources to the disaster-stricken Caribbean nation.

"Paul Conneally, speaking from Switzerland, said Red Cross field workers on the ground were being hindered by severe infrastructural damage following the 7.0-magnitude quake.

"He said there was a '48-hour window' to support search and rescue efforts and 'reinforce emergency health services.' Field hospitals would ease the strain on the overwhelmed Haitian health infrastructure, he added...."

I would guess that the "48-hour window" refers to the time during which people could make do with supplies on hand, when the infrastructure is down.

Including the control tower at the Port-au-Prince international airport. Getting in isn't going to be as easy as it was yesterday morning.

The CNN article links to another page on the CNN website, "Impact Your World," with a link list of aid organizations. Since the CNN website seems to be a trifle sluggish just now, I'm replicating some of the list here. Note: Although I may assume that CNN and my other source(s) researched these organizations and determined that they were legitimate charities, I don't know that myself, and I haven't necessarily researched them myself. It's a good idea to make sure that a charity you're giving to really is a charity.

Now, the list: Related post, in another blog:
UPDATE (January 13, 2010)

Another aid organization:
  • Caritas Internationalis
    • "The eradication of poverty and social inequality lies at the very core of what we do. Caritas provides assistance to the most vulnerable on behalf of Catholics around the world."


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