Saturday, January 16, 2010

Disaster In Haiti - and an urgent appeal

On Tuesday ,January 12, one of the worst natural disasters
in modern history struck one of the world's poorest nations.

At 8:23 am, a 7.0 Magnitude earthquake struck the Haitian
Capital of Port-Au-Prince and the nearby city of Petionville.

Just in a quick overview, the numbers are staggering.
The most recent figures are fifty thousand confirmed
dead, over two hundred thousand missing, seven hundred
fifty thousand injured, and over two and a half million

And if precedent for natural disasters in the
third world is any guide, all of these numbers will go up.
If that happens, the loss of life could exceed that of the
2004 Asian tsunami, until now the worst natural
disaster in modern history.

The images coming in over CNN are staggering. Only
10% of all buildings in the capital are still standing.
The legislature and Presidential palace are just rubble.
So is Port-Au-Prince's cathedral. And worst of all, all
of the hospitals and relief facilities are down as well.

In a nation so wretchedly poor it makes Afghanistan
and Somalia look "developed" by comparison, the
need is overwhelming.

But, in an inspiring example of what the world can
do when it decides to work together, aid is already
on the ground and much more is coming.

The United States has already advanced $100 million
to help. The 82nd Airborne, freshly returned from
Iraq, is there now. The carrier USS Carl Vinson, with
over 2,000 additional aid personnel embarked, arrived
yesterday. The hospital ship USNS Comfort will arrive
today. And five thousand Marines, trained for the
civil reconstruction effort in Afghanistan, are en route,
with the expectation that they will be there for quite some
time. And yet more from the U.S. is on the way.

The rest of the world is pitching in too. Already contingents
from some forty nations are on the ground, with personnel
from many more expected. Over one hundred nations have
either pledged or advanced official aid. Even the poorer
nations of the Western hemisphere - Cuba, El Salvador,
and Haiti's neighbor the Dominican Republic, are there
with money, supplies and volunteers. Even bad boy
Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is pledging medicine and fuel.

Yesterday on CNN I saw U.S. troops unloading supplies
from a Venezuelan C-130. And, we also saw a team from
the New York City Fire Department - the "heroes of 9/11"
working alongside Cuban and Salvadoran volunteers
to pull people from the rubble, who were then taken
to a Nicaraguan Army field hospital, to be treated
by Dutch and Swedish doctors.

But much more needs to be done - both now, and in
the coming weeks and months. And, as you might
expect, the American people are stepping up.

As of this morning, $ 37 million has been raised
for Haitian relief by the American Red Cross, almost
all in small donations. Another $17 million has been
pledged by American business. And President Obama
has enlisted former Presidents Bill Clinton and
George W. Bush to help raise money. And that's
where you come in. Haiti needs your help.

It's easy to donate. Use your cell phone and
text the word "Haiti" to 90999. Ten dollars will
automatically be donated to Haitian relief and
added to your cell phone bill. Or go to to donate.
Or just pick up the phone and call the Red Cross
or United Way in your community.

Be assured, operators in communities both large
and small all across America are waiting for your call.

The need is large - and there isn't a lot of time left
for many of these poor folks.

So please help - I've donated by cell phone - won't you?

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