Just as you are at home, we at the Department are closely monitoring the aftermath of the earthquake that struck the island nation of Haiti last night. The USGS reports an initial magnitude reading of 7.0 on the Richter scale, and while we don't have a full assessment of the damage, initial reports and military over flights suggest the loss of life and destruction of property to be severe.
The President spoke this morning, extending "the deep condolences and unwavering support of the American people" to Haiti, and committing the resources of the Federal government "to respond with a swift, coordinated, and aggressive effort to save lives."
The Secretary released a statement shortly after the President's remarks. Here's an excerpt:
"The entire Department of Homeland Security (DHS) extends its sympathy for the devastation and loss of life in Haiti following last night's earthquake--a disaster that has called the world to action in response. The U.S. Coast Guard and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are leading DHS actions to support the larger assistance effort. Several Coast Guard cutters and aircraft have mobilized and are on the ground to assist the humanitarian effort as needed. FEMA has been in close contact with the State Department and USAID, the lead U.S. federal response agencies, and stands ready to provide assistance as requested."
The United States Coast Guard has deployed the Forward and Mohawk, two 270-foot medium endurance cutters to Haiti to render assistance. They are joined by two C-130 Hercules fixed wing aircraft conducting over flights and patrols, and two Coast Guard helicopters are forward deployed in the area to provide rescue or other assistance. These assets will be supplemented by the cutters Valiant and Tahoma, both standing by in the United States to join the effort as needed. The Coast Guard is in close contact with the Department of Defense, the Department of State, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (the U.S. entity tasked with coordinating U.S. efforts), as the situation develops.
In addition, many other DHS operational components – including FEMA, Customs and Border Protection, Transportation Security Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Citizenship and Immigration Services – are all responding with assets to assist in the relief effort.
Americans seeking information on family members in Haiti should contact the State Department at 888-407-4747.
We'll continue to provide operational updates as we have them.
How you can help
Individuals wishing to offer immediate financial assistance may do so by texting "HAITI" (42484) to "90999," which will donate $10 to the American Red Cross. The amount will be charged to your cell phone bill.
Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, and much of its population subsists without the modern communication and health care resources that we would rely on during a disaster. The President said today that "this is a time when we are reminded of the common humanity that we all share. With just a few hundred miles of ocean between us and a long history that binds us together, Haitians are neighbors of the Americas and here at home. So we have to be there for them in their hour of need."
The department will continue to work with our federal partners to stand up assets to assist the people of Haiti. We'll keep you updated as the search, rescue, recovery, and relief efforts continue.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.