Hawaii Reaches Out With Monetary Support to Haiti Earthquake

January 15, 2010, 5:32 PM HST · Updated January 16, 11:50 AM
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The American Red Cross reports that an estimated three million people are affected in Haiti after Tuesday’s devastating earthquake. The agency said that in some areas, 70 percent of homes have been damaged. According to officials, as many as 40 gathering points have been set up throughout the city where survivors have been sleeping out doors, afaird that buildings could collapse.

Haiti Earthquake, catholic camp for 3000 Haitians in need of medical attention. Photo Courtesy: IFRC / Eric Quintero.

Haiti Earthquake, catholic camp for 3000 Haitians in need of medical attention. Photo Courtesy: IFRC / Eric Quintero.

The aftermath of Tuesday’s earthquake has posed logistical challenges for all humanitarian organizations, including Red Cross responders.

Three planes carrying international Red Cross humanitarian assistance supplies are en-route to Port-au-Prince. The first plane is carrying a field hospital, the second is carrying tarps, blankets, hygiene items, buckets, shelter supplies and kitchen sets, and the third is carrying 40 tons of supplies – mainly medical items like specialized kits to help treat the wounded, basic medicines and chlorine for water treatment.

Governor Linda Lingle responded to the efforts made by Hawaii residents to support the recovery operations saying, “The people of Hawai‘i have been following the news of the devastating disaster in Haiti with great interest and have been generously donating towards the relief effort. The U.S. government has sent thousands of military personnel and tons of aid, including supplies and volunteers. As always, our residents have reached deep into their hearts and pocketbooks to contribute to those Haitians who need immediate aid.”

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“The State of Hawai‘i stands with the people of Haiti during this time of crisis and we pledge our long-term support. I urge everyone to continue donating to the American Red Cross and other relief agencies. I also ask the people of Hawai‘i to keep the Haitians in their thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time,” said Lingle.

The Red Cross now has dozens of disaster specialists in Haiti, assessing the damage, addressing urgent needs and establishing the foundation for a long-term recovery operation. These individuals join the 15-person Red Cross staff already had on the ground and 12 Red Cross teams that arrived from other countries yesterday. Among them are engineers, surgeons and family linking specialists. These teams are working to establish field hospitals, restore water and sanitation systems, distribute supplies and restore family links facilities.

On Thursday, the International Committee of the Red Cross workers in Port-au-Prince provided medical assistance to five major hospitals and clinics, as well as to smaller facilities set up by local doctors in areas with a high concentration of earthquake survivors.

The International Committee of the Red Cross is also helping to reconnect separated families within the country. They have established a special Web site, enabling persons in Haiti and abroad to search for and register the names of relatives missing since the earthquake: www.icrc.org/familylinks. Within 48 hours of its launch, more than 13,800 visited the site looking for loved ones.

Given the massive needs and the extent of the damage seen so far, the Red Cross says it will take considerable resources to help the people of Haiti recover. It may be many weeks or even months to understand the full extent of the damage, and the Red Cross’ involvement in the recovery effort is expected to take years. This is not unprecedented for the Red Cross. Five years after Indian Ocean tsunami, the Red Cross is still helping many communities restore what was lost.

It is too early to say how much this relief operation will cost the international community. In the first 48 hours after earthquake hit, the amount pledged to the American Red Cross reached $37 million for relief efforts in Haiti. More than half of the donations have been through online contributions, with $8 million pledged through record-breaking mobile giving and strong support as well from corporations. First Lady Michelle Obama released a Public Service Announcement asking people to join her in supporting Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti through the text messaging campaign. Donors can text “Haiti” to 90999 on their cell phone to send a $10 donation to support Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti (donation would be reflected on cell phone bill). An average of 91 cents of every dollar the American Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs.

Here in Hawaii, donors can also call in donations to the Hawaii Red Cross at 739-8109, go on-line at www.hawaiiredcross.org or mail donations to American Red Cross, Hawaii State Chapter, 4155 Diamond Head Road, Honolulu, HI 96816. If you would like to donate specifically to the Haiti relief effort, please indicate so on your check or when you call, and your donor intent will be honored.

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