A magnitude 7.0 earthquake devastated Haiti late on Tuesday, destroying much
of capital city Port-au-Prince. Early reports indicate that the
National Palace, the United Nations outpost and the hospital in nearby
Pétionville are all among the collapsed buildings. The greatest
devastation, however, may be in the sprawling, densely populated shanty
towns that blanket Haiti. The New York Times calls
the quake Haiti's worst in "over 200 years" and Haiti "a nation that
was already the hemisphere's poorest and most disaster-prone."
Haiti, which shares the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with the wealthier Dominican Republic, has struggled with poverty approaching the scale of a humanitarian crisis. The extent of the destruction caused by Tuesday's quake is still largely unknown, but the world is refusing to stand by in horror and calls for action already reverberate across global media.
- Risk of Disease Outbreak Save The Children's Emergency Director Gareth Owen warns, "Port-au-Prince is densely populated and sanitation is already very bad -- many families don't have toilets and piles of rubbish are strewn around the city -- so we also need to prepare for the possibility of a major disease outbreak." He explains, "Children are the most vulnerable."
- U.S. Taking Immediate Action Politico's Laura Rozen surveys the American response already underway, explaining, "The country is particularly loved by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, her chief of staff Cheryl Mills who chairs an inter-agency Haiti working group, and Bill Clinton, who serves as the UN special envoy to Haiti." Rozen writes that the U.S. is considering sending a naval hospital ship to replace the function of Haiti's collapsed health system.
- Bailed-Out Banks Should Bail Out Haiti Juan Cole calls it a "modest proposal," explaining, "Remember that public TARP money that we loaned to the major Wall Street finance firms? They didn't actually use it to make small business loans as we had intended," he writes. "Since public monies clearly were the basis for a lot of the "profits" the banks and finance houses made in 2009, why don't the executives show at least a little common decency and donate some significant percentage of it (half?) to worthy causes in the US and abroad. Why not 10 percent to Haiti reconstruction and development? That would be $4.7 bn., and it would go a very long way in Haiti. The US government only puts in about $200 million a year into aid to Haiti."
- Don't Disregard Environmental Mission Tree Hugger's Warren McLaren says that, though humanitarian aid helps in the short term, rebuilding Haiti's environment may help Haitians in the long term. He lists seven such groups, explaining their contribution to Haiti's economy and environment, and how to donate.
- Hardest Part Is Helplessness Prominent Haitian-American novelist Edwidge Danticat tells reporters, "There's a huge sense of helplessness about it. You want to go there, but you just have to wait. I think the hardest part is the lack of information...Life is already so fragile in Haiti, and to have this on such a massive scale, it's unimaginable how the country will be able to recover from this."
- What It Feels Like in Haiti Global Voices gathers live tweets and photos from Haiti. On his blog, Troy Livesay, a missionary living in Haiti with his family, recounts.
The few things we can confirm - yes the four story Caribbean Market building is completely demolished. Yes it was open. Yes the National Palace collapsed. Yes Gov't buildings nearby the Palace collapsed. Yes St Josephs Boys home is completely collapsed. Yes countless countless - countless other houses, churches, hospitals, schools, and businesses have collapsed. There are buildings that suffered almost no damage. Right next door will be a pile of rubble.
Thousands of people are currently trapped. To guess at a number would be like guessing at raindrops in the ocean. Precious lives hang in the balance. When pulled from the rubble there is no place to take them for care Haiti has an almost non existent medical care system for her people.
I cannot imagine what the next few weeks and months will be like. I am afraid for everyone. Never in my life have I seen people stronger than Haitian people. But I am afraid for them. For us.