Around 5pm ET on Tuesday Jan. 12, 2010 Haiti was hit by a 7.0-magnitude earthquake with its epicentre inland and only 16 kilometres from the capital Port-au-Prince. Thousands may have died as a result of the quake and according to a member of the U.S. Geological Survey, based on the strength and location of the quake, about three million people would have been affected. The last large earthquake based on historical records in the Port-au-Prince area was in 1770. The Associated Press and Haitian radio have reported a hospital and a hotel have both collapsed and damage was done to an airport, the parliament building, a cathedral in the capital, the presidential palace, buildings of the finance ministry, ministry of public works, the ministry of communication and culture, the Superior Normal School, the National School of Administration, the Caribbean regional office of the Agence universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF). Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot was found dead by fellow missionaries in the rubble of his office.
Somewhat similar to the Hurricane Katrina disaster, CNN reports scientists have warned for years that the island of Hispaniola, which Haiti shares with the Dominican Republic, was at risk for a major earthquake. Five scientists presented a paper during the 18th Caribbean Geological Conference in March 2008 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, stating that a fault zone on the south side of the island posed “a major seismic hazard…”
Wyclef Jean, a Grammy-winning rapper and producer and founder of the charity Yéle Haiti, is in Haiti “focusing on family, Yele staff and response” according to his spokeswoman. Wyclef issued a statement calling on people to donate money to earthquake relief through his charity (click here for more info). Wyclef traveled home to Haiti shortly after the news of the quake and has made the following statements:
“Haiti today faced a natural disaster of unprecedented proportion, an earthquake unlike anything the country has ever experienced,” said Wyclef Jean last night. “The magnitude 7.0 earthquake – and several very strong aftershocks – struck only 10 miles from Port-au-Prince. I cannot stress enough what a human disaster this is, and idle hands will only make this tragedy worse. The over 2 million people in Port-au-Prince tonight face catastrophe alone. We must act now.”
Wyclef stated: “President Obama has already said that the U.S. stands ‘ready to assist’ the Haitian people. The U.S. Military is the only group trained and prepared to offer that assistance immediately. They must do so as soon as possible. The international community must also rise to the occasion and help the Haitian people in every way possible.”
USAID is sending a disaster assistance response team to Haiti. The Fairfax County (Va.) Urban Search and Rescue Team and the Los Angeles County Search and Rescue Team were alerted and are going to Haiti as well to assist. People can help the disaster relief effort by using their cell phone to text “Yele” to 501501, which will automatically donate $5 to the Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund. The $5 will be charged to your cell phone bill. Alternatively, you can visit www.Yele.org and click on Donate Now.
Another great charity to give to would be Hope For Haiti in Naples, Florida:
is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life for the Haitian people, particularly children, through education, nutrition, and healthcare. Through your generous donations and the helping hands of our family of volunteers and dedicated staff, is helping to improve the quality of life of hundreds of thousands of Haitian children and their families. Our unique approach of helping the poorest of the poor in Haiti is both efficient and effective. currently plans monthly mission trips to Haiti. The need for Medical professionals and quality health care workers who can volunteer their time in Haiti has reached desperate proportions. Medical teams generally consist of 4-8 members made up of doctors and nurses or other healthcare professionals (EMT, Paramedics, Pharmacists, Mid-wives, Physical Therapists etc…) who volunteer for 1-week periods. These rewarding trips help bring medical care to the poorest of the poor in very remote and often rural areas. Loyal donors of are also encouraged to learn more about where their donations are going by seeing our projects with their own eyes. Donor mission trips can be 3-6 days in length with 1-4 members. Donor missions can include site visits as well as hands-on participation. Your team will stay at ’s guest house located in Les Cayes (Southern Haiti). Upon your arrival to Haiti, you will be well cared for by our dedicated field staff from the beginning to the end of your mission experience. We encourage you to look at our “Programs” section to see how over 95% of donations we raise directly reach the people who need it most. We thank you for your interest and support in helping us spread HOPE to the men, women, and children of Haiti.
For a better understanding of earthquake magnitudes according to the Richter scale, see the chart below:
|Richter magnitudes||Description||Earthquake effects||Frequency of occurrence|
|Less than 2.0||Micro||Microearthquakes, not felt.||About 8,000 per day|
|2.0-2.9||Minor||Generally not felt, but recorded.||About 1,000 per day|
|3.0-3.9||Often felt, but rarely causes damage.||49,000 per year (est.)|
|4.0-4.9||Light||Noticeable shaking of indoor items, rattling noises. Significant damage unlikely.||6,200 per year (est.)|
|5.0-5.9||Moderate||Can cause major damage to poorly constructed buildings over small regions. At most slight damage to well-designed buildings.||800 per year|
|6.0-6.9||Strong||Can be destructive in areas up to about 160 kilometres (100 mi) across in populated areas.||120 per year|
|7.0-7.9||Major||Can cause serious damage over larger areas.||18 per year|
|8.0-8.9||Great||Can cause serious damage in areas several hundred miles across.||1 per year|
|9.0-9.9||Devastating in areas several thousand miles across.||1 per 20 years|
|10.0+||Epic||Never recorded; see below for equivalent seismic energy yield.||Extremely rare (Unknown)|