Haiti Earthquake Relief: How you can help right now
2010-01-13 · By Barbara Holbrook
Yesterday’s 7.0 earthquake in Haiti caused catastrophic damage and loss of life. The epicenter was about 20 miles outside of Port Au Prince, the country’s capital. According to reports, as many as three million people may have been affected by the quake, which damaged much of the country’s infrastructure, housing and commercial buildings.
“We are just now beginning to learn the extent of the devastation, but the reports and images that we’ve seen of collapsed hospitals, crumbled homes, and men and women carrying their injured neighbors through the streets are truly heart-wrenching,” said President Obama in a press conference this morning.
Debris and collapsed bridges are making access to many areas extremely difficult. Telephone service and electricity are out in many places. The priority remains to provide food, water, temporary shelter, medical services and emotional support.
Here are three organizations that are accepting donations for the relief efforts already underway.
How to Help the Haiti Relief Response
“I cannot stress enough what a human disaster this is, and idle hands will only make this tragedy worse,” said Grammy-Award winning musician Wyclef Jean, a Haitian native. “The over 2 million people in Port-au-Prince tonight face catastrophe alone. We must act now.”
So, what can you do?
To help, people can make an unrestricted donation to the International Response Fund, a general emergency relief fund that the Red Cross accesses when disaster strikes. Donate online at International Response Fund or by calling 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767).
To donate money specifically to the Haitian relief efforts, use your mobile phone. Text “Haiti” to 90999 to send a $10 donation to the Red Cross, through an effort backed by the U.S. State Department. Funds will go to support American Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti.
Also, you can use your cell phone to text “Yele” to 501501, which will automatically donate $5 to the Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund (it will be charged to your cell phone bill). To donate online visit Yele.org and click the “Donate Now” link at the top of the page. Founded by Wyclef Jean, Yéle Haiti is a grassroots movement that builds global awareness for Haiti while helping to transform the country through programs in education, sports, the arts and environment. Yéle’s community service programs include food distribution and mobilizing emergency relief.
The Salvation Army is accepting monetary donations to assist in the effort via, www.salvationarmyusa.org, 1-800-SAL-ARMY and postal mail at: The Salvation Army World Service Office, International Disaster Relief Fund, PO Box 630728, Baltimore, MD 21263-0728.
Assistance Already Underway in Haiti
The Salvation Army’s World Services Office has committed $50,000 to the relief effort and is prepared to commit more financial resources, as well as food, water and other emergency supplies, to assist in the recovery. The organization is preparing to send more than 44,000 lbs of pre-packaged emergency rations to Haiti, along with emergency disaster teams. As with all such relief efforts, The Salvation Army will be a part of the initial emergency response while assessing longer term needs of the residents.
American Red Cross is sending money, supplies and staff to Haiti to support relief efforts. The Red Cross is contributing an initial $1 million from the International Response Fund to support the relief operation, and has opened its warehouse in Panama to provide tarps, mosquito nets and cooking sets for approximately 5,000 families.
The United States government has mobilized resources to help rescue efforts. Search and rescue teams from Florida, Virginia and California will travel to Haiti today and tomorrow, and more rescue and medical equipment and emergency personnel are being prepared.
Americans trying to locate family members in Haiti should contact the State Department at (888) 407-4747.
The Salvation Army has had a presence in Haiti since 1950 and currently operates schools, clinics, a hospital, feeding programs, children’s homes and church-related activities spread across two major facilities in Port au Prince, close to the epicenter of the earthquake and at other locations in the country.
The American Red Cross has an extensive partnership with the Haitian Red Cross, which is expected to lead the Red Cross response to the earthquake. Although earthquakes are less common, Haiti is frequently impacted by hurricanes including those in 2008. The Haitian Red Cross was founded in 1932 and has developed extensive experience in disaster response due those disasters.
Yéle works to create small-scale, manageable and replicable projects to contribute to Haiti’s long-term progress. The goal of Yéle’s projects is to renew hope for Haitians to rebuild their nation. Programs include education, sports programs and arts development (including a film program). The nonprofit also promotes environmental stewardship and community service.