Florida responds to Haiti earthquake

2:01 PM, Jan 13, 2010   |    comments
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DISASTER IN HAITI

 

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* How you can help

 

* Photo Gallery: Devastation in Haiti

 

Americans seeking information about family members in Haiti can call 1-888-407-4747 or 202-647-5225, set up by the U.S. Department of State. Due to heavy volume, some callers may receive a recording.

 

"Our embassy is still in the early stages of contacting American citizens through our Warden Network," the U.S. State Department said in a statement. "Communications are very difficult within Haiti at this time."

 

To help with relief efforts, text "HAITI" to "90999" and $10 will be given automatically to the Red Cross, charged to your cell phone bill.

 

The FBI has already received complaints of fraud, so officials suggest sticking with established organizations like the American Red Cross, AmeriCares and Doctors Without Borders. E-mail users should not respond to or click on links in unsolicited messages.

 

You can double-check on donations by visiting web sites like The Foundation Center or Charity Navigator to ensure your money is going where it is needed.

 

TALLAHASSEE, Florida -- Florida's emergency managers have partially activated in response to Tuesday's earthquake in Haiti, Gov. Charlie Crist will get briefed at the Miami-Dade Emergency Operations Center and Haitian-American members of the state House are calling for help for the island nation.

"We are deeply saddened and shocked by what we are learning of yesterday's devastating earthquake in Haiti," according to a statement from Reps. Yolly Roberson, Ronald Brise and Mack Bernard, all South Florida Democrats. "We will urge Florida to put available resources toward helping those affected by the disaster, and we urge all Floridians to work with established relief organizations in bringing both immediate and long-term assistance to Haiti."

Roberson, Brise and Bernard have a 10:30 news conference planned.

Crist changed his schedule to get a briefing at the Doral emergency operations center at 11 a.m.

The state's Division of Emergency Management initiated a partial activation, monitoring the situation following the 7.0 earthquake. A spokesman for the division said officials are coordinating with state, federal and international disaster-response agencies.

Officials are planning ways to assist with humanitarian needs, in addition to providing essentials like water and clothing. Because Florida has a large Haitian American population, the Sunshine State stands ready to be a staging / launching area for federal assistance. Officials are also preparing to assist people who might be fleeing for help.

"We know that disasters have no borders... and because we have those resources, we stand ready to respond with whatever means necessary," said EOC Spokesman Mike Stone.

Southcom sending experts, equipment to Haiti

The Miami-based U.S. Southern Command is dispatching a team of 30 people to Haiti to support relief efforts in the aftermath of the earthquake and make way for additional military aid.

Officials said two C-130 aircraft were departing Wednesday for Haiti with the team of military engineers, operational planners, communications specialists and a command and control group.

Southcom officials said the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Carl Vinson was already heading for Haiti. The Air Force is sending people to provide air traffic control and operations at the Port-au-Prince airport.

Coast Guard helicopters early Wednesday evacuated four injured U.S. Embassy personnel to a hospital at the Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Southcom did not release their names.

More Haiti Coverage:

Paul Flemming, Florida Capital Bureau and Brittany Benner, 10 Connects

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