The poorest people in the western hemisphere got crushed – again. The 7.0 magnitude was followed by at least a dozen aftershocks, two of which measured 5.5 and 5.9. Naturally, the epicenter was just outside the densest population center, Port-Au-Prince.
Haiti, by far the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, has been beset by natural disasters for most of its recent history. The island is struck by an annual series of hurricanes and is particularly vulnerable to storm-related disasters because much of its forests have been chopped down and used for fuel, leaving the country with very little tree cover. In one of its hardest hit years, 2004, Haiti was rocked by powerful Hurricane Jeanne, which caused untold destruction and killed 3,000 people.
Since 2008, the island has been struck by at least three severe hurricanes — Gustav, Hanna and Ike — that have wrought nearly a billion dollars worth of damage and killed 800 people. All of this has taken place against the backdrop of food riots, health crises and near constant government instability and upheavals.
Wyclef says you can text “YELE” to 501-501 and it will automatically donate $5 to his relief organization via your cell hone provider (i.e. $5 will be added to your next cell phone bill). Donate more at Yele’s website (if you can get it to load), or Red Cross, or what have you.
UPDATE: You can also donate $10 to the Red Cross by texting “Haiti” to 90999. This is a major humanitarian crisis unfolding in our backyard. Ce n’est pas bon.
UPDATE: More ways to help here.