Haiti has been through a lot in recent times.
Saturday, August 14th, a powerful magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck southwestern Haiti, killing at least 304 people and injuring at least 1,800 others as buildings tumbled into rubble trapping people. This disaster is said to be stronger than the magnitude-7.0 earthquake that devastated the Caribbean country in 2010. The United States Geological Survey said the quake struck five miles from the town of Petit Trou de Nippes in the western part of the country, about 80 miles west of Port-au-Prince, the capital. Seismologists said it had a depth of seven miles. It was felt as far away as Jamaica, 200 miles away.
This earthquake could not have come at a worst time for Haiti, which is still recovering from its 2010 earthquake1 that killed more than 220,000 people and leveled much of Port-au-Prince. The southern peninsula, where the earthquake hit, is also still recovering from Hurricane Matthew, which hit the country in 2016.
The country of 11 million is also recovering from political turmoil. Haiti has been in the throes of a political crisis since President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated on July 7, and the government is not financially equipped to take care of repairs.
How did the Haiti Government Respond?
The Prime Minister Ariel Henry said he was rushing aid to areas where towns were destroyed and hospitals overwhelmed with incoming patients.
The epicenter of the quake was about 125 kilometers (78 miles) west of the capital of Port-au-Prince, the U.S. Geological Survey said, and widespread damage was reported in the hemisphere’s poorest nations as a tropical storm also bore down. Haiti’s civil protection agency said on Twitter that the death toll stood at 304, most in the country’s south. Rescue workers and bystanders were able to pull many people to safety from the rubble. The agency said injured people were still being delivered to hospitals. Henry declared a one-month state of emergency for the whole country and said he would not ask for international help until the extent of the damages was known. He said some towns were almost completely razed and the government had people in the coastal town of Les Cayes to help plan and coordinate the response.
The most important thing is to recover as many survivors as possible under the rubble, said Henry. We have learned that the local hospitals, in particular that of Les Cayes, are overwhelmed with wounded, fractured people.
He said the International Red Cross and hospitals in unaffected areas were helping to care for the injured, and appealed to Haitians for unity. “The needs are enormous. We must take care of the injured and fractured, but also provide food, aid, temporary shelter and psychological support,” he said.
What did U.S President Biden say?
The president released an official statement and tweeted this message:
In what is already a challenging time for the people of Haiti, I am saddened by the devastating earthquake that occurred in Saint-Louis du Sud, Haiti this morning. Through USAID, we are supporting efforts to assess the damage and assist efforts to recover and rebuild.
Samantha Power, the head of the United States Agency for International Development, (USAID) said she has authorized the deployment of a Disaster Assistance Response Team to Haiti to help with recovery efforts following Saturday's earthquake. Power said she is coordinating with the Haitian government and has spoken with US Ambassador to Haiti Michele Sison and Adm. Craig Faller, the head of the US military's Southern Command, regarding USAID's efforts.
As the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, Haiti is no stranger to the development community. With 76 percent of Haitians living on less than US$2 per day and a penchant for political upheaval, Haiti attracts international aid agencies across the development spectrum.
Natural disasters have only worsened Haiti’s plight. In 2008, severe storms destroyed more than 70 percent of Haiti’s agriculture and most of the country’s roads, bridges and other infrastructure, leaving 3.3 million people in need of food support.
How Can You Help Haiti?
Donating to credible and trusted organizations providing disaster relief on ground is one way to help. One of the issues people have in donating to large organizations is the bureaucracy that exists. Critics condemn large international aid organizations for raising large funds and failing to do the right thing with the funds they raised. TANTV has done a deep dive to source a list of credible organizations to donate to:
Your support enables Fonkoze to empower families throughout Haiti with life-changing tools, resources and training needed to break the cycle of poverty and prepare for unforeseen challenges such as pandemics, natural disasters and more.
CNN’s Impact Your World has compiled a list of donation opportunities to help those affected by the crisis in partnership with Public Good.
Global Empowerment Mission is a 501c3 nonprofit that empowers people by providing aid, food, housing and quality education.
BStrong activity is in its first response with teams on the ground are already reporting significant damage in the south coast. Les Nippes, La Grand Ans, Jeremie and Les Cayes. GEM Bstrong is in full mobilization mode and will be assisting the region. #haitiearthquake
ShelterBox is an international disaster relief charity that provides shelter to families affected by disaster worldwide. #ShelterBox