Help for Haiti

Help for Haiti

Seattle Times: Between murderous dictators, coups, hurricanes and other natural disasters, Haiti has seen more than its share of misery. In the wake of a devastating earthquake, world relief efforts should be as enormous and far-reaching.

As if a magnitude 7 quake striking the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere on Tuesday afternoon wasn’t enough, the timing coincided with children returning from school. Hundreds of thousands are feared dead. Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, was hit hard; the presidential palace sits in ruins. The shantytowns that marked much of this impoverished island collapsed into dust.

To understand the Haiti quake’s devastation, the Nisqually quake that struck near Olympia in 2001 was magnitude 6.8 on the Richter scale.

Impressive response

More than 8,000 U.N. troops stationed on the island provide initial assistance. The U.S. has amassed a rapid and impressive response, including four Coast Guard cutters, two C-130 aircraft and an initial contingent of 2,000 Marines. Help will be needed with emergency aid distribution and assisting U.N. peacekeepers on alert for post-disaster unrest.

U.S. officials are having trouble reaching their counterparts in Haiti. Phones are out and the smattering of information emerging comes via e-mail, Skype, Twitter and other means.

It is difficult to view the searing images of collapsed buildings and bodies piling up along the streets of Port-au-Prince and not feel compelled to help.

A devastated nation needs help now.

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