/PRNewswire/ -- CARE is deploying additional emergency team members to the devastated city of Port-au-Prince in Haiti, where the worst earthquake in 200 years destroyed houses and left thousands homeless. While the exact death toll from the 7.0-magnitude quake is not yet known, it is expected to be catastrophic.
CARE has launched an international appeal for funds for Haiti that will support immediate emergency operations. CARE plans to start food distribution using stocks of high-protein biscuits from its warehouses in Haiti. CARE is coordinating with other UN agencies and aid organizations to assess damage and on-the-ground needs.
Initial reports are that homes and buildings across the city have been destroyed, including essential services like hospitals. Electricity is out and phone lines are down across the affected area, restricting available information about the extent of the disaster. Aftershocks continue to rock the area and have caused landslides outside the city.
Sophie Perez, CARE's Country Director in Haiti, was in the CARE office in Port-au-Prince when the earthquake hit. CARE's staff in the Port-au-Prince office escaped the office safely, but we are still trying to determine if all other staff in the area are safe.
"It was terrifying. It lasted for more than a minute," said Perez. "The whole building was shaking. People were screaming, crying. Last night, people were sleeping outside because they were afraid to go back inside their homes. Many of the houses are destroyed anyway. There were eight aftershocks last night. Everyone was sleeping in the streets. The whole city is affected. It is just morning here now, and I can hear helicopters working on the search and rescue. The immediate need is to rescue people trapped in the rubble, then to get people food and water. We're particularly worried about the children, because so many schools seem to have collapsed. Children were still in school in the afternoon when the earthquake hit, so there are many children trapped. It's horrifying."
Dr. Helene Gayle, CARE president and CEO, said, "This is an extremely serious situation. We currently have 133 personnel on the ground in Haiti and are deploying additional staff immediately to distribute food, hygiene kits and water, as well as to deliver emergency health services."
CARE has extensive experience responding to disasters of this magnitude. Many of CARE's staff in Haiti include emergency personnel who were part of the response to the devastating Hurricane Hanna in 2008. CARE began working in Haiti in 1954 to provide relief assistance after Hurricane Hazel. Today CARE's work in Haiti includes projects in HIV/AIDS, reproductive health, maternal and child health, education, food security, and water and sanitation.
Delta Air Lines, a long time CARE partner, is providing transportation support for Atlanta-based CARE staff into Haiti to support our Haiti Country Office team on the ground with emergency relief.
To Donate: Go to www.care.org or call 1 800 521 CARE.
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