Determining the number of casualties from a Haiti earthquake, said to be the worst in 200 years, has proven to be an impossibility following shattered communication systems.
The 7.0-magnitude earthquake, which struck the Port-au-Prince region Tuesday, is said to have killed possibly thousands and Canada is sending a reconnaissance team to determine how to help the country.
Canada will send its Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to Haiti to help.
Three Canadians are among those dead following the earthquake.
Houses and buildings have been reduced to shambles as groups and countries work to send help to the nation.
Dr. Tiffany Keenan, originally from Blackville, is the founder of Haiti Village Health, a group dedicated to helping struggling countries with medical care, health education and nutritional supports.
She is currently in Bermuda and has been there about 18 months.
She had originally planned to go to Haiti in March to check out her clinic but said with the Tuesday earthquake those plans could change.
She has been attempting to contact her medical team in Haiti but hasn’t been able to get through.
“My clinic is in the north so I think the clinic itself should be fine. But I have a close friend that has an orphanage in Port-au-Prince … and I haven’t been able to make any contact with him.”
Keenan explained her friend has 50 children in his orphanage that he was supporting and she is attempting to find out the state of his orphanage, as he is a person who could likely help the current situation in Haiti.
“The other group that I guess I have contact with is in the southern part of Haiti, in the Jacmel region. Because right now I’m working with ORA International and I did just get an e-mail from her, and she said they have an orphanage too. And the top floor, the girls section of their orphanage was damaged by the earthquake, even though they’re three hours south of Port-au- Prince,” she said.
“There’s so much devastation right now.”
Keenan continued to state Doctors Without Borders is currently in the region, as is the Red Cross, who are already based in the country, and Oxfam.
“There’s organizations that are already starting to deliver aid and disaster assistance – the ones that are presently in the country. And then I guess we’ll see what U.S. and Canada send down for their disaster response teams as well.”
Following the deployment of the reconnaissance team, Keenan said she feels the country will most likely send DART, the Disaster Assistance Response Team, to Haiti, who will provide drinking water and medical treatment in the disaster areas.
“Because Canada has such close relations with Haiti,” she explained.
Those in this region can help by supporting the main organizations in the country, Keenan said.
“We’re going to need support. I know I’ll need support at the orphanage and then through that donations could come in through Haiti Village Health and then if they want to give, in terms of global assistance, donating to Doctors Without Borders.”
Doctors Without Borders has a large hospital in Port-au-Prince, Keenan said, although she was unsure of the state of the hospital following the earthquake.
“But they deliver some of the best care to the poor people of Haiti. So that would be another area people could donate financially.”
In terms of supplies, Keenan said the country needs clean water and food.
“And unfortunately the easiest way to do that is just through cash donations. You know, in time they’ll need clothing and all those kinds of things,” but right now they need food and medical supplies.
“The medical supplies, you know, there’s a lot of teams on the ground and it’s just a matter of financing the assistance for those projects,” she said.
“In such a major disaster, you know, there’s kind of the global support you have to give and then it’s just the people that you know and the contacts that you have. So for me I know that the big groups will be out there … and I want to find out [about] my friend’s orphanage and see what I can do to help support him. So personally that’s kind of where I’ll direct a lot of our efforts,” she said.
“If you think about Mount Carleton, a lot of people can kind of associate that, and you think of 2 million people living up in Mount Carleton Provincial Park, and if a big earthquake were to hit there just think of what the devastation would be.”
Keenan said Haiti has suffered a lot recently, noting floods and hurricanes endured by the country, and hopes interest to the area will increase.
Sarah McArthur is also a part of an organizations attempting to help out the country.
As executive director of ORA International – Canada she said thousands of dollars are going to be needed to repair Haiti.
ORA has been in Haiti for the past 12 years, and McArthur said she has a sister who is a full-time missionary there.
“She was on the ground when the earthquake hit so we’re in the process of just creating some awareness for the general public about where they can donate to so we can send money over for our first-aid and disaster relief.”
McArthur explained that, while her sister is OK, she was in a three-storey building when the disaster hit, causing the building to twist, causing fears the building would come down on top of them.
“But they were about to scramble out and get out and she said as they were running all the buildings around them were just falling down,” she said.
“She said that it’s a miracle that they’re alive. She said the aftershocks are really what’s worse because they’re at about a 5.0 and she said they had at least 24 of them.”
McArthur noted many people are trapped and the number of people killed is currently unknown.
“I haven’t checked the latest updates but the control tower was out for their airport so they weren’t landing anything yet. But I hope that maybe that’s been resolved at the last few hours.”
McArthur said ORA is, as with many disasters, going to conduct a “three- stage process.”
First-aid and disaster relief to help people on the ground and ensure people are OK, as well as providing clean water and food. Medical attention is also to be given.
In a week or two they will go into the developmental stage, rebuilding and helping people.
Sponsorship programs to support the on-going work.
“Right now we have about 10,000 euro that’s coming from our head office in Germany, and that’s just going to be to start to create first-aid disaster response.”
But McArthur said a lot of money is going to be needed.
“We’re hoping to raise at least $25,000, you know what I mean? To help some of the homes be rebuilt and help the orphanages and re-establish food and all of those types of things.”
McArthur noted $25,000 goes a long way in Haiti, explaining some of the people live on very little.
“They live on next to nothing and even make their own cinder blocks to make their own houses. I mean, it’s just a different way of life.”
McArthur stated people can drop off first-aid supplies such as gauze and bandages, as well as over the counter medications such as Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Polysporin and eye drops at Dr. Carl and Linda Hudson’s Clinic in the medical arts building located at 679 King George Highway.
To donate through Haiti Village Health visit http://www.haitivillagehealth. ca/donate.php, to donate through ORA Canada go to http://www.ora-international. org and click on Canada or call at 1-506-773-8815.
Donations can also be taken or mailed to 18 Way Rd., Trout Brook, N.B. E9E 2T2.
The Red Cross is responding to a powerful 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck off the coast of Haiti on Jan. 12 which caused buildings to collapse and wide-spread damage throughout Port au Prince, and the rest of the Island country with thousands feared dead.
Red Cross responded to the disaster immediately and local volunteers continue to support evacuation activities and provide shelter, clean water and medical support. The Canadian Red Cross has contributed $200,000 from its International Disaster Relief Fund and on stand-by to be deployed if necessary are Canadian aid workers.
Canadians are encouraged to support Red Cross relief efforts by making a financial donation to the Canadian Red Cross Haiti Earthquake fund.
To make a donation online go to www.redcross.ca/helpnow, or call 1-800-418- 1111. Donations can also be made at any Red Cross office.
The Salvation Army is also excepting donations, and donations can be made by text. Text HAITI to 45678 from any Rogers Wireless or Bell Mobility phone. Donors will receive a message asking them to confirm the donation.
In addition to the text message donation program, Canadians can support The Salvation Army’s relief effort by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY (725-2769), by visiting their website, www.SalvationArmy.ca or dropping off financial donations at the closest Salvation Army unit in your area. Donors should specify their gift to the Haiti Earthquake Disaster Relief Fund. The call centre (1-800-SAL-ARMY) and www.salvationarmy.ca are accepting donations.
The Miramichi Salvation Army is located at 231 Pleasant St.
World Vision Canada is also accepting donations, which can be made by calling 1-800-268-5528, or by going to www.worldvision.ca.
Dinner at St. Mary’s Anglican in Chatham
On Jan. 30 from 2 to 6 p.m. a turkey and ham dinner will be held at the St. Mary’s Anglican Church in Chatham to raise money for the cause.
The plans were finalized Thursday morning. Donations will be taken for the cause at the door.
Allen and Helen Gillis are coordinating the effort to raise funds along with about 100 other people.
While no number is in mind of what they would like to raise, Gillis said $20, 000 would be what they’re hoping for.
And whatever is raised will be matched by the federal government, he said.
“They announced it this morning … every dollar that you raise will be matched by the government.”
With the government matching, they have potential to raise around $40,000.
“We’re going to leave that with God, eh, but that’s our plan,” he said.
“We’ll see what happens.”