Haiti Earthquake
MINUSTAH peacekeepers load an injured person into a truck in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. A 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti Tuesday. (AP Photo)

The American Red Cross is ramping up its efforts to help Haitians coping with the worst earthquake the country has experienced in two centuries.

It is sending more financial aid, and specially trained employees and volunteers either already are in the country or are on the way.

For local residents, the Red Cross said the best way to help right now is to donate money. They cannot take clothes or supplies at this point, and only volunteers with special training will be sent to the region.

A news release issued this morning by the Red Cross follows:

American Red Cross provides aid to Haiti

The American Red Cross today is releasing an additional $9 million for earthquake relief in Haiti, bringing our commitment to $10 million. Five disaster management specialists from Peru, Mexico and the United States are arriving in the Dominican Republic today and will travel by land to the disaster zone. These individuals join the 15-person staff we already have on the ground in Haiti as well as thousands of local Red Cross volunteers. As airports begin accepting relief shipments and more commercial flights, tarps, cooking sets, hygiene items and other supplies from the American Red Cross warehouse in Panama will be distributed to an initial 5,000 families.

Our partners within the global Red Cross network are also responding to the urgent humanitarian need. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is helping to reconnect separated families within the country. They have established a special Web site, enabling persons in Haiti and abroad to search for and register the names of relatives missing since the earthquake: www.icrc.org/familylinks. An ICRC plane carrying 40 tons of supplies — mainly medical items — is expected to leave Geneva today. Included are specialized kits to help treat the wounded, basic medicines and chlorine for water treatment. Other Red Cross partners have deployed a mobile hospital as well as medical teams to support it as well as more than 40 others who can coordinate the relief activities, including sheltering, water, sanitation and telecommunications.

The Red Cross provided blood and blood products to the US Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida. That blood, requested by the US Navy, was shipped by the US Navy to their facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in support of Haitian evacuees and patients. In addition, the American Red Cross sent a shipment of blood products to the United Nations Mission in Haiti. To date, the Red Cross has sent more than 100 units of blood and blood products to Haiti and Guantanamo Bay. The American Red Cross is meeting the needs of this tragedy through current supplies. At this time we do not anticipate the need for a special donor appeal to support our efforts. As always, blood donors are encouraged to call 1-800-RED CROSS or visit us online at www.redcrossblood.org to make an appointment.

How our community can help

• People who want to help those affected by the Haitian earthquake can make a donation to the American Red Cross International Response Fund at www.redcross.org or by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS.

• The Red Cross is also receiving money through a third-party mobile fundraising effort in which mobile donors can text “Haiti” to 90999 to send a $10 donation to the Red Cross. The funds will go to support the Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti.

• Currently, we are deploying only Red Cross volunteers specially trained to manage international emergency operations. Please consider supporting your community’s local needs by volunteering with your local Red Cross.

• At this time, what we need the most are financial contributions — whether by check, online or by phone. The Red Cross and other the organizations leading the efforts in Haiti most need financial gifts in order to best serve the victims. Things like clothes are not helpful right now because there is nowhere to store them, no one to sort them, and it would be difficult to transport the items to Haiti. One good way to turn clothes into cash is to have a garage sale and then donate the money to the relief efforts.

The American Red Cross has received more than $3 million as of 9 a.m. EST — through a third-party mobile fundraising effort to support our relief efforts in Haiti.

The funds will go to support the Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti.

The mobile fundraising effort launched on January 12, approximately three hours after the earthquake struck Haiti. The program is powered by Mobile Accord and the MGive Foundation in coordination with the U.S. State Department as part of its ongoing support of this disaster response.

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