Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Haiti: When the already fragile is further shaken


A map showing the areas in Haiti, on the island of Hispaniola, impacted by the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Tuesday.

From time to time, the pop and circumstance of daily living give way to the grim reality of living on a planet that brings its own separate grief, aside from the economic, social and political struggles of daily living, in the form of natural disasters. On an early morning Q train passing through Flatbush, three women chatted in hushed and worried tones about the latest disaster to befall Haiti.

“I couldn’t reach my cousins, I don’t know what to think.”

“It looks like nothing was left standing.”

This scene was no doubt repeated many, many times wherever emigrants from Haiti gathered, so, of course, there is great concern in Brooklyn’s Haitian community.

“First the hurricane, now this….”

Haitian-Americans in Miami, New York and other U.S. cities tell a similar story of frantically trying to get through to relatives and friends to see if they survived the largest earthquake to hit the Caribbean nation in 200 years. Communications were widely disrupted, making it impossible to get a full picture of damage and casualties as powerful aftershocks shook the desperately poor country where many buildings are flimsy.

The New York Times reported a comment from one Haitian in Miami: ''The level of anxiety is high,'' he said. ''Haiti has been through trauma since 2004, from coup d'etat to hurricanes, now earthquakes.''
The New York Times also reported that Edwidge Danticat, a Haitian-American author whose books about the country have won the National Book Award and the Pushcart Prize, gathered family and friends at her Miami home, which has become something of a command center.

''Some people are online, some are watching CNN, some are listening to Haitian radio,'' she said late Tuesday night. ''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.''

She said that for years, Haitians wondered with trepidation what would happen if an earthquake hit.

''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.''
More from the Times here.

For more coverage, see The Haitian Times

HOW YOU CAN HELP: CNN IMPACT HERE

And, a site established by
Yele Haiti, an aid and charitable organization founded by Haitian American artist Wyclef Jean.

The Miami Herald provides more detail and updates here.

U.S. Representative Kendrick Meek advised any citizens wondering about their family in Haiti to call 888-407-4747, a phone line set up by the State Department in conjunction with American Citizen Services.

Time Magazine Photos of the Aftermath here.




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