Port-au-Prince, Haiti (Jan. 13, 2010) - 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, and has allocated an initial €100,000 (US $145,000) to immediately start emergency operations. CARE plans to start food distributions using stocks of high-protein biscuits from our warehouses in Haiti. CARE is coordinating with other UN agencies and aid organizations in the joint assessment to gather more detailed information about the damage and the needs on the ground and will rapidly scale up our response.
Initial reports are that 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. 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."
CARE has 133 personnel already on the ground, with extensive experience responding to disasters. Many of our current staff 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.
For more information or to arrange interviews with staff in Haiti:
Melanie Brooks (in Geneva): +41 79 590 30 47, email@example.com
Brian Feagans (in Atlanta): +1 404-457-4644, firstname.lastname@example.org
Stephanie Libby (in Atlanta): +1 404-979-9182, email@example.com
About CARE: Founded in 1945, CARE is one of the world's largest humanitarian aid agencies. In nearly 70 countries, CARE works with the poorest communities to improve basic health and education, enhance rural livelihoods and food security, increase access to clean water and sanitation, expand economic opportunity, and provide lifesaving assistance after disasters. CARE is based in Geneva, Switzerland.