There’s never much that can be said in the first few hours of a natural disaster, other than that the disaster has happened, and that help will be needed. Well, disaster has happened. A magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit Haiti, right by the nation’s capital, Port-au-Prince. And help will be needed.
Haiti is the poorest nation in the Western Hempisphere, and one of the densest as well. Port-au-Prince is the nation’s most populous city, and it is full of structures that were built of cheap concrete with little serious engineering behind them. It is a nation with about half of its population subsisting on about $2 a day. Needless to say, that’s not a population building their houses with earthquake-proof redundancies. That’s a population happy to get a roof up that doesn’t leak.
When even the nation’s presidential palace — a structure that was built with care and engineering — has collapsed, it is unquestionable that thousands and thousands of homes of more modest construction have collapsed as well. And tens if not hundreds of thousands of people are at risk of injury, homelessness, and death.
Our neighbors to the south will need our help. The San Francisco Chronicle has a list of some options, and I’ll post more as they come along.
Until then, keep your thoughts and, if you’re so inclined, your prayers with the people of Haiti.