Port-au-Prince, Haiti, January 13, 2010--Christian humanitarian agency World Vision plans to begin assessing damage and preparing a relief response today after the major earthquake that hit Haiti Tuesday. The agency has worked in Haiti for 30 years and has some 370 staff in country.
Downed communications, blocked roads and continuing aftershocks slowed relief efforts overnight, with staff unable to leave the agency's Port-au-Prince office for several hours due to fallen debris in the roadways.
"It felt as if a truck had hit a wall," said World Vision staffer Magalie Boyer, of the initial tremor. "There is extensive damage in the city. People are getting ready to spend the night in the streets. They are not comfortable staying in their houses."
"World Vision Haiti will distribute first aid kits to survivors, along with basic materials such as soap, blankets, clothes and bottles of water as an initial response," Boyer added.
Meanwhile, World Vision staff from less affected regions of Haiti are mobilizing and the agency's global experts are expected to arrive in the disaster zone as soon as possible. Crystal Penner, a World Vision aid worker, was in the central plateau region of Haiti when the quake hit: "There are relief goods prepositioned in various locations across the country, though the challenge will be getting those supplies swiftly to those in need," she said.
"We would be very concerned about a quake of this magnitude anywhere in the world, but it is especially devastating in Haiti, where people are acutely vulnerable because of poor infrastructure and extreme poverty," said Edward Brown, World Vision's relief director in the United States.
Reaching hard-hit areas with supplies is expected to be a significant challenge due to damaged roads and infrastructure, including the main airport and government buildings.
Donations of cash are needed for the response. The public can help by visiting worldvision.org or by calling 1.888.56.CHILD.