At around 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Haiti was struck by the worst earthquake in more than two centuries. The magnitude 7 quake hit an area only 10 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, destroying homes, government buildings, hospitals, schools, and anything else that stood in its way.
Nearly a day later, thousands of people are feared dead and large parts of the Haitian capital are in ruins, according to several reports. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies reported that an estimated 3 million people have been affected by this tragic event, according to the New York Times.
Organizations near Rye are also involved in earthquake relief efforts. The Resource Foundation in Larchmont is channelling support to local non-governmental organizations in Haiti, and has already received important contributions from corporations and individuals, said Loren Finnell, the foundation's CEO. "We are working with two local agencies that will be providing food, shelter and medical attention as needed," he said.
Local contributors can mail their support to the Resource Foundation at P.O. Box 3006, Larchmont, NY, 10538, or donate online.
Habitat for Humanity of Westchester is also coming up with different ways to help. Executive Director James Killoran said that he has met with the Haitian community here in Westchester.
"Habitat is galvanizing support and coming up with an ad hoc Haiti relief committee," Killoran said. "We were asked to bring volunteers there and are working with the international office as that settles to find what the best mechanism will be."
Habitat for Humanity of Westchester's First Annual Martin Luther King Gospel Fest, which will take place on Jan. 16, will also be an opportunity to raise funds to alleviate the devastation in Haiti. The event will start at 6 p.m. at Bible Way Church on 592 Main St. in New Rochelle.
The Red Cross is contributing an initial $1 million to Haiti from their International Response Fund, according to Westchester Communications Director Abigail Adams. IRC volunteers are already on the ground; supplies are being released from an IRC warehouse in Panama; and six disaster management specialists are currently being deployed to Haiti. All of these efforts will meet the needs of about five thousand families immediately, Adams said.
What the quake victims are most in need of now is food, water, temporary shelter, medical services and emotional support. "We strongly believe in mental health support," said Adams. "We have gathered all our mental health experts to reach out to the community to try help."
To make a donation, go to www.redcross.org, or call 1-800-Red Cross. You can also text the word "Haiti" from your cell phone to 90999 to make a $10 donation. If you would like to volunteer instead, call 914-946-6500 and ask for the volunteer department. They will need help answering phones, responding to inquiries and getting information out during the crisis.
If you or someone you know is organizing a plan of action to help quake victims in Haiti, let us know and we will spread the word.