Haiti Earthquake Relief Effort

25 01 2010

I have written a couple of times about the Haiti Earthquake Relief Effort.  The option offered below for businesses is unique in the sense that it involves a technology product that the Houston Urban Area is utilizing to help our area prepare for the next disaster.  Recently, our region purchased a technology called “i-INFO” to help us manage resources during a catastrophe.   

i-INFO Networks in other parts of the United States have formed a network to assist those in Haiti— in a manner that is appropriate to the need.  The World Cares Center in New York City, a member of the National Business Reponse Network, is deploying a team to Haiti to setup a resource and volunteer coordination center to assist int he relief and recovery effort.    The National Business Response Network is working with US Northern Command in this relief effort.  The team should be established this week, and once set up, with the help of other Business Response Network members providing satellite phones and other key equipment, the team will be in a position to communicate directly from the center in Haiti.

It is important that the donations from citizens and businesses fit the needs of the victims— it would be counterproductive to send items that are of no use to those suffering.  The Center will provide a mechanism for knowing exactly what is needed.  So, today, I have two suggestions for those citizens and businesses that want to contribute to the relief effort:


Citizens are urged to donate money to relief organizations. This ensure that the most appropriate type of aid gets to the victims as quickly as possible.  Donating to the American Red Cross, is a simple way for citizens to donate and to make sure that the money is being put to good use.  The Fort Bend County OEM coordinates with the Red Cross locally during disasters which affect Fort Bend County, and you can donate to the Red Cross to send more relief to Haiti.


Businesses are also urged to donate to the Red Cross, but can also offer supplies to be sent directly to Haiti. A registry is available at http://registry.i-info.com/haiti and is intended to collect in-kind resources from any organization that is willing to donate these critically needed items. If you don’t have anything to donate on the list, you can register for updates to the registry.

Teaching Kids About Helping Others….

16 01 2010

An emergency management colleague sent me the item below.  Cute story; great parenting; and a fairly powerful message about teaching kids about helping others.  Reminds me of how important it is to teach children how and why to do the right thing; not only so they do the right thing as they mature, but also perhaps to teach others, including other adults.  Character building can take place anytime.  As my colleague relates the story:

     “I purposely decided to call my girls in to watch the news coverage of Haiti last night (they are 5 and 6).  I then explained about earthquakes (I grew up in San Francisco so I know this stuff but they have never experienced one in Brooklyn) and took that into another reason why it is so important that we prepare, practice our evacuation routes from the house, check our go bags from time to time, etc.  A teachable moment as they say.”

     “We then moved into what we can do for all the people especially children.  Draw them happy cards was the first suggestion.  Ok, I’ll do something with that effort.  Then send toys was next – um NO was my answer given I had to sign for about 15,000 of those when they arrived in NYC after 9/11.  Money.  Hum – so off they went to gather pennies from their secret hiding places (I didn’t tell them that I know where they stash their change but the Tooth Fairy is still real too).  Another teachable moment.”

      “After breakfast this morning my youngest was stacking canned food in the hallway.  I asked what she was doing.  She told me she took them out of the family emergency bag in the front closet “because it is an emergency in Haiti and that is what this food is supposed to be for, right” she asked.  Right I said.  A teachable moment for me as an emergency manager and mom.” 

Years ago, I was in charge of initiating a curbside recycling program in a small city in Pennsylvania.  Everything started out pretty well, but things really improved when we started getting recycling information into the schools.   When small children went home and chastised their parents or siblings for not putting the plastic bottle or newspaper in the recycling bin, it seemed like collection rates for recyclables started increasing.   As with recycling, I think many of us in the emergency management profession believe that if kids start talking to their parents about family emergency plan or emergency preparedness kit, more and more people will start taking steps to better prepare for disasters.  

Hopefully we will all adopt the approach of my colleague and spend the time to find “teachable moments” with our children.


Haitian Earthquake Relief Fraud Alert

14 01 2010

In a News Release from FEMA today, the FBI reminds Internet users who receive appeals to donate money in the aftermath of Tuesday’s earthquake in Haiti to apply a critical eye and do their due diligence before responding to those requests. Past tragedies and natural disasters have prompted individuals with criminal intent to solicit contributions purportedly for a charitable organization and/or a good cause.

Therefore, before making a donation of any kind, consumers should adhere to certain guidelines, to include the following:

  • Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming e-mails, including clicking links contained within those messages.
  • Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as surviving victims or officials asking for donations via e-mail or social networking sites.
  • Verify the legitimacy of nonprofit organizations by utilizing various Internet-based resources that may assist in confirming the group’s existence and its nonprofit status rather than following a purported link to the site.
  • Be cautious of e-mails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files because the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
  • Make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf to ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes.
  • Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions: Providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.

Anyone who has received an e-mail referencing the above information or anyone who may have been a victim of this or a similar incident should notify the IC3 via www.ic3.gov. For further information, please visit the FBI’s Web site: http://www.fbi.gov/pressrel/pressrel10/earthquake011310.htm

United States is Not Only Country Assisting in Haiti

14 01 2010

Hey folks—– I heard some political “humor” the last night that rubbed me the wrong way.  Americans are not the only ones assisting those suffering in Haiti.  In the city management profession, it is often said that “there is not a Democratic way nor a Republican way to fill a pothole; there is only the correct way.”  For those so inclined to use a disaster to posture forward a political position, please recognize that this is not the time for inane bantering about the subject; that is—- which country is doing the best job assisting Haiti. 

There is work to be done; the disaster is too big for one country to complete the job on its own; many are assisting— not just Americans; and politics and should not be entering into the conversation about how best to respond to the citizens in Haiti—– we all need to do it the correct way.

Recent reports on the Internet indicate that besides the enormous amount of aid coming out of the United States, that Cuba has sent 30 doctors to add to the 400 Cuban medical staff and two field hospitals already established in the Haitian capital.  Brazil indicates it is sending $10 million dollars in disaster aid and 28 tons of drinking water and food.  Peru is sending 50 tons of food, 18 medical staff and two field hospitals reports the country’s health minister.

More on Earthquake in Haiti

14 01 2010

One of our fellow workers here at the Office of Emergency Management has a good friend that works in Port-au-Prince.  She is doing good work at an orphanage.  However, nobody has heard from her since the earthquake.  No phone calls; no postings on Facebook; no Tweets.  We all hope that she is healthy; lacking electricity and a communication device; and doing what she normally does— busy helping others.

For those of you who are trying to locate friends and family in Haiti— contact the State Department at 888-407-4747.

As I indicated in my previous blog entry, if you want to help those suffering in this tragedy, please consider giving cash to disaster relief organizations.  I placed web addresses for some good agencies in my last blog entry.  Remember— cash provides these agencies with the means to purchase the specific goods that the victims need.

For more information on the disaster in Haiti, visit the Center for International Disaster Information at:


Haiti Earthquake

13 01 2010

I have received a few calls and emails from people asking what they can do to help the people of Haiti.  The suffering following the massive earthquake is immense.  Thousands of victims have died; or are injured; or trapped in debris.  It appears that tens of thousands are homeless.  The full extent of the disaster will not be known for days; perhaps weeks.

The most important thing that a citizen can do to assist with humanitarian efforts is to donate money to agencies that are responding to the disaster.  This is the type of disaster where much of the aid will be provided by voluntary groups who provide critical goods and service to disaster survivors as quickly as possible.   I encourage you to donate to the reputable organizations that are providing emergency response to Haiti. 

There are many options when considering donations to aid the people of Haiti:

  • American Red Cross                                                                       
  • www.redcross.org
  • Florida International Volunteer Corps                                  
  • www.favaca.org
  • Pan American Development Foundation                              
  • www.panamericanrelief.org
  • Samaritan’s Purse                                                                            
  • www.samaritanspurse.org
  • UN ReliefWeb                                                                                    
  • www.reliefweb.int