More about the crisis and how to help: state.gov/haitiquake
Today, State Department Counselor Cheryl Mills underscored U.S. commitment to aggressive and comprehensive support of Haiti and its people. During a briefing on the situation in Haiti, Ms. Mills said:
"We have a whole-of-government approach. We have had several meetings with the President where all of the various agencies have been represented and have spoken directly to the issues. And he’s made clear what a top priority this is, and to ensure that in the end the Haitian people get the kind of support and the kind of response that’s going to be necessary, given the direness of the situation.
"We’ve been in touch with Prime Minister Bellerive today. Our Ambassador Ken Merten met with him earlier today and is now going to be meeting with him again this afternoon. The Haitian Government and Prime Minister Bellerive had indicated they are beginning to be in a place where they can be more effective and being partners in the planning and the coordination for the disaster response, and they are looking forward to – now that they have been dealing with a lot of, obviously, the challenging situations and personal situations, to being able to provide that leadership. So we’re looking forward to supporting them and ensuring that they have the necessary communication and other equipment and other things that they need to be able to provide the leadership to the Haitian people."
Ms. Mills continued, "We have been getting a lot of offers for in-kind donations, everything from planes to goods. To the extent that those kinds of donations are being offered, it would be great if people would make those through www.cidi.org. That’s the Center for the International Disaster Information. And they can provide both guidance and coordination with respect to those."
USAID Administrator Raj Shah spoke about relief efforts on the ground in Haiti. He said:
"We have – our first wave of responders are now on the ground as – and have been actively engaged in search-and-rescue since last night. That’s – since yesterday afternoon, actually, the Fairfax, Virginia urban search-and-rescue team, with all of its capacities, and 72 professionals, have been active now for more than 24 hours. They’ve identified a number of buildings, done a lot of surveying for us, and are also serving as a point of coordination, helping to work with the Haitian Government and with the United Nations and with other countries that are bringing search-and-rescue gear, equipment, and professionals to this problem.
"We have more than 250 American relief workers actively engaged that have been just a part of the recent deployment. That number is increasing significantly as we speak as planes land at the airport that has now been operationalized as a 24/7 airlift operation.
"We have coordinated engagement with a number of other partners, partners from Canada and the UK, Belgium, and others to make sure that we are deploying our assets in an effective way."
Administrator Shah continued, "[W]e’re making active plans for the transport of food and water and other critically needed commodities – tarps, other kind of equipment that can help enable greater access to shelter for both – for the Haitian people that have suffered in this terrible tragedy.
"All of this is taking place as we speak and is accelerating quite significantly. It really does amount to the first wave of response. There’s a second wave, of course, that the President alluded to earlier today that we have a significant military capacity, a number of resources from the 82nd Airborne, the USS Carl Vinson, an aircraft carrier, and the Comfort U.S. hospital ship. Those assets will be deployed and are on their way to being engaged in this effort. So this will be a significant effort that is really about trying to, first, save lives in this first critical 72-hour period, then lay the groundwork for providing access to critically needed commodities – medical services, food, water, water purification – and then lay the groundwork for rebuilding."
People in the U.S. or Canada with information or inquiries about U.S. citizens in Haiti may reach the Haiti Task Force at 888-407-4747. Outside of the U.S. and Canada, call 202-501-4444. You may email inquiries to: Haiti-Earthquake@state.gov.
U.S. citizens in Haiti may call the Embassy’s Consular Task Force at 509-2229-8942, 509-2229-8089, 509-2229-8322, or 509-2229-8672. Americans are urged to contact the U.S. Embassy via email at ACSPaP@state.gov to request assistance.
The emergency hotline for family members of United Nations staff in Haiti is 212-963-4139.
Anyone wishing to donate or provide assistance in Haiti following the devastating earthquake that struck near Port au Prince on Jan 12, 2010, is asked to contact the Center for International Disaster Information.
For those interested in helping immediately, simply text "HAITI" to "90999" and a donation of $10 will be given automatically to the Red Cross to help with relief efforts, charged to your cell phone bill.