In the aftermath of the massive earthquake that rocked Haiti and left complete destruction in its wake, local organizations are coordinating community relief efforts.
The 7.0 scale earthquake devastated Haiti on Tuesday, killing tens of thousands and reducing the capital city, Port-au-Prince, to rubble. An estimated 3 million people were affected by the disaster, and the country was left in shambles. Massive relief efforts, led locally by Direct Relief International and the Santa Barbara chapter of the American Red Cross, began immediately after the quake to raise money and supplies for the island nation.
American Red Cross Santa Barbara chapter spokeswoman, Kristiana Kocis, said the Red Cross has garnered an immense amount of support for Haiti in the last two days. Kocis primarily attributes the organization’s success to the fact that donations can now be made via text message.
“After starting midnight on Tuesday, we’ve raised over $3 million in barely a day,” Kocis said. “This is the fastest response we’ve ever seen. I’m absolutely blown away by how fast and easy text donations are.”
Kocis said $10 donations can be made by texting HAITI to 90999. The money will show up on customers’ next month’s phone bill.
The International Red Cross will be sending their highest level responders to Haiti to provide basic necessities such as food, water and shelter. Kocis said the best way for the local community to show support, however, is through monetary donations.
“The first 48 hours are really hard to figure out the next steps to take, so cash provides the best flexibility to those on the ground,” Kocis said. “The best things to do are stay informed and provide any financial support that you can.”
In addition to texting, the Red Cross accepts donations by phone at 1-800-REDCROSS or on the Web through their International Response Fund at www.redcross.org.
Direct Relief International, a local nongovernmental medical organization, has also been involved in the relief efforts.
Immediately after the earthquake the organization sent $420,000 of medical material aid to St. Damien Children’s Hospital in Port-au-Prince. The hospital is one of three local facilities in Haiti that Direct Relief partners with in order to provide immediate aid in the face of disasters.
Additionally, Direct Relief International has promised $2 million in medicines and medical supplies that will depart today via shipping carrier FedEx. The shipment will include materials for trauma and wound care, broad-spectrum antibiotics, water-purification products and oral-rehydration solutions.
Brett Williams, Direct Relief’s Emergency Director, said he is very grateful for the support the organization has received.
“We have so many great supporters,” Williams said. “Some give time or money; FedEx gave their logistics and delivery expertise.”
Direct Relief will also send some medical personnel to Haiti, but will limit the size of the group so as not to add to the already rampant confusion.
“We plan on sending some of our logistics staff and trained medical personnel, but we will not send a lot because that would just make it more chaotic,” Williams said.
Donations for medical support can be made by visiting www.directrelief.org or calling 1-800-676-1638.
Williams said there are many other aid organizations currently working to help the devastated country, all of which would welcome donations of any size.
“To help Haiti in general, go online and read about organizations to support and choose one that matches your interest,” Williams said.