Earthquake in Haiti
Wednesday, January 13, 2010; 3:00 PM
Bernier Lauredan, president of The Haitian League, a community-based, non-profit organization which coordinates the needs of Haitian organizations in the diaspora, was online Wednesday, Jan. 13, at 3 p.m. ET to discuss the earthquake disaster in Haiti. Lauredan has been in touch (by telephone) with people in Port-au-Prince and can provide some details about the situation on the ground.
washingtonpost.com: We understand you have spoken by phone to survivors in Port-au-Prince. What are they saying and how are they doing?
Bernier Lauredan: I spoke with the president of the Haitian League in Haiti and he says the situation is bad. The U.N. building is down and the representative of the secretary general is missing and also the Hotel Montana is also down. Some 200 reported at the hotel. That's the residence of the U.N. representative, Mr. Alabi. A lot of the U.N. mission are missing. U.N. is busy to trying to rescue their own people because the headquarters is completely down. The U.N. has heavy equipment they're using to rescue their own people.
The national palace was also hit. Nobody reported missing or dead in that. The Haiti Ministry of Justice is down completely and there is no idea of the whereabouts of the minister of justice.
The legislative chamber house is down and the president of the Senate is missing.
Bernier Lauredan: There are many buildings -- one out of two -- are down. The people are crying, looking for help. Some people are dead in the streets. The survivors are crying and praying. There is no light, no telephones. The communication is one-way by cell phone. They can call out but you can't call in.
The food situation is getting worse and worse because most of the supermarkets are down and there no means to bring food from anywhere. Some of the roads are cut off. There is no looting reported as of this moment.
The prime minister just went on TV and announced that 100,000 people are dead. (That's what the wires are reporting.) And the number is going to be much more. This is the report I have right now from Haiti.
D.C.: Hello Bernier,
I am a former aid worker in Haiti and I will be partaking in a radio program later this evening. Any suggestions on where to direct people who want to make monetary or in-kind donations in the D.C. area?
Bernier Lauredan: You can donate online at haitianleague.org. Or you can send your donation to 22 Ball Street, Irvington, N.J. 07111 or call (973-371-0089) I don't know of any drop station in Washington.
Washington, D.C.: Have you been in touch with the White House and if so, what do they tell you?
Bernier Lauredan: I have not personally been in touch with the White House but President Obama says he's in full support of providing help to Haiti and indeed the State Department issued a press release saying that aid was to arrive at Port-au-Prince at 3 p.m. today.
Fairfax, Va.: What is The Haitian League doing in regards to the earthquake? Are you dispensing information to Haitians in the U.S. and elsewhere?
Bernier Lauredan: We are in collaboration with different organizations throughout the U.S. and Canada. We are providing them with information on how to help and for those who want to go to Haiti to help we are providing logistics information for their trip there. (There are no commercial planes flying into Haiti right now. I just spoke to American Airlines and they have a team on the ground inspecting the runway to see if it can accommodate planes.)
The State Department announced that planes may be able to land and the control tower is still up. This is a very good sign that people may be able to get there.
Washington, D.C.: Hi,
I have a friend that has knowledge of Port-au-Prince and speaks fluent French and limited Creole. He wants to help. What can he do?
Bernier Lauredan: We are planning to go to Haiti as soon as we can get access. You may accompany our group. You should contact the Haitian League as mentioned above.
Local gatherings?: Are there local (Washington DC) gatherings/vigils for the Haitian community?
Bernier Lauredan: We are planning a vigil on Saturday morning in Irvington, N.J., and that will be followed by a press conference. We are working with California, Georgia and New York also; they have not been set up yet. We would like to hold one in Washington, D.C., at the Cathedral. Miami is organizing one also but no date for that yet.
Bernier Lauredan: Those cities I just mentioned are the big concentrations of Haitians in the U.S.
Washington, D.C.: How recovered from the hurricane is Haiti?
Bernier Lauredan: Haiti has not recovered from the past three hurricanes. The Gonaives (the city hardest hit by the hurricanes) is still not rebuilt yet. The people who have lost business have still not been able to reestablish themselves. The people who lost their belongings (animals, goats, pigs, chickens) ... they have not been able to replace them. It's hit them hard.
Bernier Lauredan: Haiti needs prayers and besides prayers, we need all the assistance that can be provided. We are heading to Haiti soon and hope to bring with us emergency medicine, nonperishable food and any monetary contributions people can afford. We thank everyone. Once again, the address is The Haitian League, 22 Ball St., Irvington, N.J. 07111 and Web site is www.haitianleague.org.