Community Unites in Support of Caribbean Nation
“You are Not Alone”
“This is one of the great tragedies to befall any country,” said Mayor Bloomberg of the earthquake registering a magnitude 7.0 on the Richter Scale at 4:39pm local time southwest of Port Au Prince.
“And the fact that it happened to a country so close to the United States, and particularly close to this city, it’s incumbent upon us to pull together.” Bloomberg joined by Gov. David Paterson, Borough President Marty Markowitz and many other city leaders at the Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church in Brooklyn’s Flatbush section yesterday, also spoke of how the search and rescue teams and other city resources were ready to be deployed and that efforts were being coordinated on the federal level, as well.
“What is needed on the ground right now is communications,” said the mayor, a statement echoed by everyone who spoke. “The already fragile infrastructure of Haiti has been decimated, and there is no meaningful communication capability left.”
The scale of destruction is such that basic infrastructure has to be first put in place, before many aid personell can be put on the ground. “The magnitude is such that it will be the United States government and the United Nations with the capability to bring assistance,” said the mayor. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, trying to convey the kind of devastation Haiti has been struck with, a nation that is known for its poverty, shanties, mud slides, hurricanes and coups. “The palace is a very, very substantial building, and the fact that this building collapsed, to think that it crumbled, goes to show you the magnitude of this earthquake.”
Kelly was speaking at a large press conference held at Holy Cross Church in Brooklyn, the spiritual home for “The largest population of Haitians outside of Haiti” according to a conversation that Borough President Marty Markowitz said he had with several members of the Haiti government.
“Brooklynites will be there big time with their checkbooks open,” said Markowitz. “And all the nations of the world, China, Russia, Korea, Japan, should all come together over this tragedy and invest the money necessary to help Haiti overcome this problem.”
“A community that is a part of the great fabric of New York, and today a community that is a part of the great collective prayer of New Yorkers,” is in dire straits said Governor David Paterson. The state is poised to help but “there is an unavailability of communications.” Paterson announced that “Deputy Secretary for Public Safety Denise O’Donnell is creating a registry of New Yorkers known to be in Haiti, so that we can as quickly as possible notify their families of their whereabouts and hopefully, safety.”
All spoke of the need for financial donations, rather than food or clothing. “The ports are closed” there is no communication and the best thing is to give the agencies the money for the flexibility to act where the need can be met. Stressed also was to be watchful for scams and to always give to known relief agencies. Those mentioned were UNICEF, American Red Cross, and Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti. go to http://yele.org to make a donation.
“This will be a consistent and lasting effort during this very difficult time for the people who live in that area,” said the governor. “I want to pledge all the resources of the state” for the relief effort that is being mounted for Haiti. “New Yorkers should know that New York has coalesced in a fight to help those, as they helped us, just a little over 8 years ago, when we had our city confronted by tragedy.”
Councilman Matthew Eugene, the first memberof the Haitian community to serve on the City Council said he sent “My prayers to my brothers and sisters” and “thank you to all my colleagues in government for the support for the Haitian community.” Eugene spoke about people calling his office at 2am, not knowing what had happened to their family members. “I want to say to the people of Haiti, You are not alone. You have friends working together as one team, the United States team, to send relief and assistance to you.”
(Follow up-to-date reports at http://www.haitiantimes.com/