Yesterday members of Tampa’s Haitian community coordinated relief efforts for Tuesday’s deadly earthquake in Haiti. Although contact is not yet established with the quake victims, local groups are planning their next steps.
In recent years, Haiti has endured four hurricanes, a political coup de’tat, and a severe corrosion of basic infrastructure. But this week’s earthquake has sent the poverty stricken nation even deeper into peril. For 22 years Pastor Paul Nelson has gone on mission trips with Good Samaritan World Outreach Ministries to Haiti from his home in the United States. Yesterday, the local groups met at the mission’s church in East Tampa. Nelson says that the country is in dire need of food, clothing, and medical support.
As the quake began, Loussain Gange was on the phone with a friend in Haiti, who witnessed the quake shake Port au Prince in the span of about half a minute.
The quake has left the country without communications infrastructure, which has made it nearly impossible for anyone outside of Haiti to know what is going on. Claude St. Jean has not been able to reach his family members on the ground in Haiti.
Daniel Thelusmar is with Heart to Heart Caribbean Ministry, but joined with Good Samaritan to find ways to provide relief for Haiti. He said that the earthquake further dismantled an already badly damaged infrastructure that was left in ruins by the hurricanes that hit Haiti in 2008.
According to the International Red Cross, about a third of Haiti’s population of 9 million people was affected by the quake. Thelusmar said that Sunbiz.org and florida.gov are legitimate places to find information, and that those who wish to donate for Haiti relief should be wary of scams when sending money to relief organizations.
Although no numbers are certain, Haitian President Rene Preval believes thousands may be dead. Thelusmar said that relief groups have now established contact to Haiti from the Dominican republic, and are bringing Haitian immigrants in that country back to Haiti to provide relief. A full response team for food, medical and communications assistance plans to be on the ground by Saturday morning.
WMNF’s coverage on the aftermath of the earthquake:
You can text 501501 to Wyclef Jean’s relief organization
Doctor’s Without Borders in Haiti
Other relief organizations:
A cooperative effort from progressive groups called Progressives for Haiti