Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How Can You Help Haiti?

By now, you have likely heard of the devastating earthquake and series of aftershocks that have hit Haiti over the past 24 hours.  Whenever disasters of this magnitude strike, there is an instant desire to help.  Americans are known for being generous with support and donations; however, it is also important to remember that donations efforts can create problems for the affected disaster area. 

While it may seem natural to want to collect food and clothing for disaster victims or send teams of people into the disaster area, the gathering of large quantities of items or people can present their own logistical nightmare for the communities devastated by the disaster. 

I will never forget the story I heard of the semi-truck full of bacon that arrived at one disaster scene that could not be cooked, refrigerated or shared with the community that it was sent to, nor will I forget the bags of used underwear that arrived on my emergency management office doorstep in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.   

If you want to help others, in any disaster situation:
  • Stay informed of the situation.  The Department of Homeland Security has a nice blog underway to share information on the situation in Haiti. 
  • Donate money to a relief organization.  There are 3 specific efforts undeway in this regard:
Families of Americans living in Haiti are encouraged to contact the State Department at 1-888-407-4747.

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