Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Earthquake in Haiti - January 12, 2010

Victim of the earthquake in Haiti

Port-au-Prince, Haiti

According to the news reports Haiti's devastating earthquake has left an estimated 3 million people in need of emergency aid. As I sit here writing this aid groups and governments are scrambling to send tons of disaster relief to the impoverished Caribbean nation.

Humanitarian officials said the proximity of the quake's epicenter, only 10 miles (15 kilometers) from the capital Port-au-Prince, and Haiti's crumbling infrastructure meant it was impossible to gauge how many people might be dead or wounded. Many, many people are trapped in the rubble.

The first airlifts to Haiti were concentrating on search and rescue efforts, setting up makeshift hospitals and delivering food.

I am often critical of actions by the U.S. government but I am very happy that this country always comes to the forefront when there is a crisis of this magnitude that can be created by the forces of Mother Nature. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has already stated that the United States is offering full assistance — civilian and military — while Britain, France, Canada, Germany, China, Mexico and Venezuela pledged immediate support in terms of personnel, cash and supplies.

One of the first teams expected to arrive Wednesday in Haiti are 37 search and rescue specialists from Iceland, along with 10 tons of rescue equipment.

French rescue authorities have said 65 rubble-clearing specialists and 6 sniffer dogs were leaving Wednesday for Haiti, while Spain was rushing three airplanes there with at least 100 tons of tents, blankets and cooking kits. Israel was sending in an elite Army rescue unit of engineers and medics.

Some aid flights from Europe were delayed by heavy snow. A British plane with 64 firefighters and rescue dogs was grounded temporarily at Gatwick airport.

Spain said it would provide euro3 million ($4.3 million), the Netherlands pledged euro2 million ($2.9 million), Germany, euro1 million ($1.45 million) and China, $1 million. They state that the first priority is to save lives.


When my children were very young we lived for five years in Southern California. During that time we experienced many earth tremors. I had arrived there from England and knew nothing about earthquakes. I went into extreme panic the first time that I felt the floor shake and witnessed dishes and other items fall off shelves and scattering across the room. I grabbed up my children and I guess you could say that I literally ran around in circles. My husband was at work and we were home alone. In just a few minutes the tremors stopped and there was sudden silence and an uncanny peacefulness. I started wondering if it had really happened but a look around the house verified that it had been real when I looked at the broken dishes and knick-knacks on the floor. Later the neighbors told me that if it happened again I should grab the children and run into an interior closet that has four walls. Well, it happened several times after that and each time that I was in that interior closet I held them tightly to me thinking ‘what on earth good was this, being locked in a closet?’ My children are grown now but I can still remember the feeling that the world was coming to an end or at least our place in it.

I am not writing this account lightly, but to say that in a small way my family and I experienced the panic that happens at such a time. The difference is that we never came to harm. I can only imagine the sheer terror that was going through the minds of the residents of Haiti yesterday.

My heart and my compassion go out to them at this time.


If you are wondering what you can do to help I suggest that you contact the American Red Cross Program or the Presbyterian Disaster Relief Program.

I have worked personally during disaster relief with both of these groups and know them to be very honest with their sole mission being to provide immediate short-term assistance followed up with long term help. They will help to care for those who are injured and who are in need of the very basics of life sustaining items.

As tragic as this is, I can’t help but feel proud to know that it is a natural trait of humanity to help each other up and these first responders arriving in Haiti from around the world are doing just that.

I am a firm believer in prayer and ask that you do that also.


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